If you’re planning on putting your homestead on the market anytime soon, you’re most likely going to be looking at a few renovation projects before you sell. Besides adding value to your property, improvement projects are an amazing way to gain new skills and deepen the pride you feel for your home. However, if you’re planning on staying put for a while, renovating serves another purpose — it allows you to make your home better fit your lifestyle. Luckily for DIYers everywhere, there are a number of home improvement projects that can can do both at once.
Home Improvement Projects
1. Boosting Curb Appeal
When considering curb appeal, we tend to think of suburban homes. You know…homes that actually have curbs in front of them. That being said, it’s just as important for homesteads — curbs be damned. Most buyers associate the condition of the exterior with that of the interior, thereby forming an opinion of the house before setting foot inside. If you are planning on selling your homestead (either now or in the future), increasing curb appeal is the first thing you should focus on.
There are a number of factors that go into curb appeal, including:
- The condition of the grass, landscaping, trees and bushes near the front of the property
- Condition of the roof
- The condition of the siding
- The condition/presence of patios and decks
Improving the curb appeal of your property may be more costly than you imagined, but it’s definitely worth it. Not only can it have a huge impact on the sale price, it will also give your homestead a glow that will have you beaming for years to come.
Start by tackling the landscaping. Put plants on the porch, flowers in the garden, and dark or redwood mulch around freshly trimmed trees and shrubs. If you have overgrown evergreen shrubs, rip them out and replace them with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Pull weeds and cut down invasive vines. Once you’re done, put a crisp edge on the garden beds to give everything a clean look. Baby your lawn by starting and maintaining a fertilizer and watering regimen. Cover any bare spots with seeds or sod, and be sure to get rid of crab grass and thistles.
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Next comes your fencing. As any homesteader knows, the most important part about fencing is whether or not it keeps the animals in (and the predators out.) Aesthetic rarely plays much of a part. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace any broken slats, panels, and electric wiring, gates and tighten loose latches. A sturdy fence won’t necessarily give extra value to your property, but it will attract buyers who are bringing animals with them.
Roof in disrepair? It’s time to replace it. If you’ll be staying in your homestead for a while, this will serve you well — and if you’re selling, you’ll be able to sell increase the asking price. Power wash the outside of the house to brighten it up. If you notice any damaged siding or peeling paint, you’ll need to replace and repaint. Do all of this for barns, outbuildings, and animal housing as well. Freshly painted trim, new shutters, and updated gutters can make your house look brand new. And if you really want to make things pop, paint your front door in a bright tone that compliments the trim. It doesn’t hurt to update the house numbers and mailbox, as well.
Finally, you’ll want to create an outdoor living area. Repair, paint/stain, and seal your porch, patio, and/or deck. If space allows, furnish these areas with chairs, tables, benches, fire pits, lighting, decor, etc. To create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, consider building a pergola or installing a water feature. Outdoor living spaces are in very high demand as most Americans find them a necessity for throwing parties, socializing, and spending time with friends and family. Not only do they add a ton of value to the home, they’re a great way to get your family outdoors for more than just doing farm chores.
2. A Wow-Worthy Kitchen
Since the kitchen is the popular room in the house, upgrading it is a sure-fire way to add value to your home. You can update an old-fashioned design, add and island to enhance your kitchen’s functionality, install energy efficient appliances, or simply remodel your kitchen to suit your family’s needs. No matter what reason you decide to do it, it’s important to remember that a kitchen remodel is a big deal. It can be surprisingly expensive and should be well thought out. To avoid blowing your budget, consider doing the following:
- Stick with your current layout. While taking out walls, moving gas lines, plumbing connections, and electrical wiring doesn’t seem like too much work, the cost can add up really quickly.
- If your cabinets are in good shape and you like the style, give them a few coats of paint and fresh hardware for a whole new look. If you need new cabinets, buy ready to assemble or in stock cabinets, as custom cabinets will cost thousands more.
- Though granite has been king for the past few years, it can be quite expensive. There is a wide range of affordable countertop options to choose from — butcher block, concrete, tile, and even laminate can look equally as beautiful for a lot less dough.
Don’t forget to make space for the utilitarian things as well. Oven hoods aren’t overrated — they work hard to vent smoke, heat, and humidity, and smells to the outside world. Create a hidden space for trash cans, whether it be under the sink or in it’s own dedicated pull-out drawer. Wall outlets are your friend; make sure to install a few extra so you always have room to plug in your countertop appliances.
3. Making the Most of Your Bathroom
It might surprise you to know that bathrooms rarely have proper lighting. Light your bathroom in a series of layers. For general lighting, a ceiling fixture works well; but when it comes to your vanity you’ll want sconces or other vertical fixtures mounted on either side of the mirror to reduce shadows and light your face evenly. Use decorative light fixtures over tubs or showers to enhance the overall mood of the room.
Bathroom storage can be a real challenge — especially when you have a full size shower and pedestal sink. If you have room, a closet, armoire, or even just a simple chest is ideal for handling the essentials. Install shelving anywhere there is blank wall space, such as above the toilet or over towel bars. You can even use the spaces between wall studs to create built in niches for holding soaps and toiletries. There are also a multitude of ways to store the small stuff, including magnetic strips and undercabinet caddies.
If you’re doing a full bathroom remodel, there are a few simple ways to avoid overspending. Consider refinishing your bathtub, shower, sink, or tile rather than replacing it — you’ll end paying a fraction of the price. You can also update your bathroom cheaply and easily by changing hardware, such as drawer pulls, faucet handles, and showerheads. And just like the kitchen, if you really want to save money, keep your current layout. Leave the sink and toilet where they are or you’ll find yourself hemorrhaging money to move the plumbing.
4. One Thing at a Time
If you simply don’t have the budget for full on room renovations, there are smaller projects you can take on one at a time to add value and interest to your home. For instance, interior doors are a key part of a home’s overall decor, and replacing them with flat or raised panel doors adds fresh style, character, and personality. In many homes, interior doors are hollow core. Switching them out with solid core doors will not only add weight, it will also significantly reduce noise.
Poor lighting and outdated fixtures take attention away from your home’s true beauty. Install new fixtures with higher wattage bulbs to give your house a modern feel and friends and buyers alike focused on its best features. Something as simple as changing candle shaped bulbs to round ones in a chandelier can make a huge style difference!
Staircases are often a focal point in homes, so keeping them in tip top shape is incredibly important. Repair broken treads, fill gouges, and fasten railings and carpeting securely. If you want to change the look of your stairs, you can replace the balusters, refinish/paint the wood, or add runners. There are tons of fun and easy ways to dress up staircases on a budget.
If you live in an older house, you may find yourself lacking storage space. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to make the most of the closets you do have. Update your closets by installing multilevel rods, shelves, and pullout drawers. Not only will this leave you with a far more functional closet, your home will look more customized to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.
5. Hiring Smart
When it comes to home improvement projects, you’ll want to honestly assess which projects you can do yourself, and which are better left to professionals. Trust me, it’s far cheaper to have a contractor do the project from the get-go than having to call them in to fix your mess. Of course, choosing the right contractor is the key to a successful home renovation project — and it’s not the easiest thing to do.
Start by gathering referrals from friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Then, search the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of contractors available in your area. Once you have a list of three to five, you can start collecting bids. Be wary of the lowest bidder as this may indicate that a contractor is cutting corners or using subpar materials. You’re most likely safest with the bid that falls somewhere in the middle.
Once you’ve chosen a contractor, ask for a copy of both their license and that of the major subcontractors who will work on the project. You absolutely must hire a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor. Otherwise, you’ll be liable if a member of the work crew gets injured on the job. Before you make your final decision, check disciplinary boards, the Better Business Bureau, and local court records for any claims.
Finally, draw up a contract that details:
- Start and projected completion date
- Project description
- Specific materials and products to be used
- Total cost
- Payment schedule
- Contractor’s license number and that of all subcontractors
- Proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments
- A requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers
Hiring a contractor means putting a lot of trust in a total stranger — not to mention welcoming them into your home. It’s important to do your due diligence in order to find the right person. You’ll find your thoroughness and patience was well worth it in the end when you’re left with an amazing finished product.
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