5 home improvement home improvement projects with added value

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There’s a good chance you’ve recently rolled up your sleeves and taken on a home improvement job of your own.

Eight in 10 homeowners have tackled at least one home improvement project since the pandemic began, an Angi survey has found. Additionally, spending on home improvements and repairs is expected to peak this year, according to a study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In 2019, the most recent year for which JCHS data is available, homeowners spent an average of $3,300 on improvements and $820 on maintenance.

A big reason more homeowners are jumping on the DIY bandwagon is a shortage of construction workers, making it harder for consumers to find qualified contractors.

But let’s face it: some home improvement projects are easier than others for the unskilled homeowner. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted in July 2021 by BJ’s Wholesale Club found that four in 10 Americans said they had more failures than successes when it came to home improvement. And nearly half (45%) of respondents admit they’ve “slaughtered” a home improvement project.

Remodeling experts say the key to completing a home improvement renovation is choosing the right project for your skill level. For example, painting an accent wall can be a good project for a beginner, but refinishing a wood deck would be better suited to more advanced users as it requires the use of a sander and a pressure washer, two heavy-duty machines.

Fortunately for newbies at home, “There are many projects that the average person can do on their own,” says veteran home improvement expert Bob Vila. Here are five relatively simple DIY improvements that will add value to your home.

1. Show your front yard a little TLC

Landscaping can increase the value of your home by about 5% to 12% depending on where you live, according to a recent study by Virginia Tech. In fact, listings with the word “landscaping” in the property description can sell for 1.4% more than Zillow’s pre-bid estimate.

“You don’t have to spend a fortune on new landscaping to make a difference,” says Mitchell Parker, senior editor at Houzz, a home improvement and interior design website. For example, a well-manicured lawn typically increases a home’s resale value, according to a survey of real estate agents by the National Association of Realtors. So make sure the grass is mowed, weeds removed and dirt patches reseeded.

Vila also recommends trimming hedges and trees — “You don’t want big trees casting shadows on your home,” he says — planting hedges of different sizes and lighting walkways. Sets of easy-to-install garden lights can cost as little as a few dollars per bulb.

2. Paint the front door

You probably realize that a freshly painted front door can make your home more welcoming to guests and potential buyers. But what color should you paint it?

For many, the answer is black or charcoal gray — homes with front doors in those colors have sold for up to $6,271 more than expected (that is, it is more important to choose a color that suits your home rather than being on trend.)

Repainting a front door is relatively inexpensive to do yourself. According to HomeGuide, exterior paint prices typically range from $30 to $80 a gallon for standard acrylic or latex, and primer averages $20 to $50 a gallon, though you’ll also need to buy tools like paintbrushes, rollers, and painter’s tape. These can often be found in sets that cost around $40.

3. Refinish kitchen cabinets

For many, the kitchen is the most important room in the house. That means a fresh looking kitchen can go a long way when putting your home on the market.

According to Houzz’s annual Kitchen Trends Report, cabinet remodeling is the most popular partial kitchen makeover homeowners undertake. It’s also affordable to do it yourself — it’s only $200, depending on the paint brand you choose and the materials you buy, according to Kitchn, a kitchen design consulting resource.

But consider this: Refurbishing kitchen cabinets is time-consuming. You must remove the cabinets and all knobs and hardware before cleaning, sanding, painting and finally reassembling.

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4. Seal air leaks

Today’s buyers, especially millennials, want energy-efficient homes. Energy efficiency is not only good for the environment, but also good for your monthly electricity bill.

Luckily, you don’t have to put in a lot of effort to make your home more efficient. If you have an older home, simply sealing air leaks can significantly reduce your running costs, according to EnergyStar.gov.

A simple solution is to seal gaps around windows and doors, says James Bruno, chief construction officer at Curbio, a national home improvement company for home sellers. “It really adds a lot to the insulation and saves energy,” he says.

5. Install smart home technology

Several surveys suggest that today’s homebuyers are willing to pay more for homes that already have smart technology. That includes features like smart security locks, smart thermostats, and smart lights, all of which are “pretty easy for the average homeowner to install,” Bruno says.

He recommends getting your feet wet by installing a smart security system like Ring, a video doorbell that detects motion when people enter your property, or a Nest thermostat that lets you control your home’s heating and cooling system from your be able to control from your smartphone.

What DIY Projects Should I Avoid When Doing Home Improvement?

Some home renovations are better left to professionals. “I generally advise people to avoid anything that poses a risk of falling,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling, a national home improvement company. “I also advise people to avoid complex electrical work” that could potentially electrocute them, he adds.

Jobs that require plumbing or construction skills should also be reserved for professionals, says Houzz’s Parker.

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