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Home Improvement: Adding Value With Inexpensive Projects

8 February 2010 8 Comments

The real estate game has changed.  A few years ago, the equation was simple: put as much money into your house as possible because each dollar was multiplied when selling your property.  Nowadays, you need to be smart and frugal with putting money into your home.  The new equation, post-housing-bust, is as follows:

Put As Little Money As Possible Into Your House Towards Differentiating, Value-Added Projects

If you look at that equation, there are two goals: differentiation and adding value.  With regards to differentiation, you want to be able to differentiate your house from other homes when you’re trying to sell your house.  Differentiation might be achieved through a unique lushly landscaped backyard, or a excellent garage, or unique storage capabilities or a custom, beautiful interior paint job.

All differentiation is not equal.  Remember, each project must add value.  You can differentiate your house by painting your interior walls all black, but that won’t add value.

Lastly, we want to allocate as little capital as possible towards these projects.

Projects That Are Not Good Investments

The typical projects of renovating a kitchen and bathroom (both very expensive) are not the best approach in my opinion as long as your kitchen and bathroom is at least up-to-date to some extent.  If you have a decent, nice kitchen, you won’t get your money back by adding granite counter tops.

If you have a semi-new home, I recommend sticking with your bathroom and kitchen, and instead allocating money towards more creative, less inexpensive projects.

Projects That Can Add Value And Not Break Your Bank

I believe that you should find creative ways to improve your home value and residence.  You should try and find projects that you can do yourself rather than paying someone else.  Paying somebody else for a project can often prevent you from getting a return on the project.


With the housing boom, countless new developments were created with “cookie cutter” homes – homes that are very similar.  As such, you can do some very basic things to provide a major differentiation factor from the other clones in your neighborhood.  The backyard is an easy target.  The key is to transform a plot of grass in your backyard to a very beautiful, enjoyable living space.  This might require putting in some pavers, adding landscaping, adding a fire pit, adding a fence, adding a bench and other furniture.  The goal is to transform the backyard to where somebody looking at your house steps outside as says, “Wow.”  You can learn how to do everything mentioned here yourself including installing brick pavers.

Interior Painting

Painting the inside of your house can change the complete feel of your home.  I recommend more neutral tones that make the house feel warm and “homey.”  Take a look at some of the new, expensive homes that are having open houses for some more advanced painting ideas.  For example, you might consider painting the ceilings a different color which seems to be a popular idea these days.

For under $1,000, you can completely change the entire interior of your house with a nice paint job.  And, you can do the entire project yourself with basic equipment and a weekend of your time.

Garage / Attic / Basement

Typically, people avoid showing their garages to guests and potential buyers because many people use garages as storage for junk.  By having a very nice garage, you will give a potential buyer the idea that they will be organized right away if they buy your home.  Clean out the garage completely, install heavy duty shelving, paint the walls (and maybe the floor).  Be proud of your garage and show it off as a very usable space in the home.  I live in Florida and don’t have a basement, but you can extend this same concept to a basement if you have one.

Similarly, you can create a usable attic space.  Clean it up, organize it, add necessary shelving or storage equipment so that using the attic is easy and comfortable.  Be sure to show off such things if you’re selling your house and you’ve spent the time in improving your attic or other areas of your home.

Do It Yourself

Learning new skills so that you can do projects yourself is a great way to spend some of your free time.  You’re not only saving money by doing it yourself, you will feel better and feel a sense of accomplishment, and you will increase the standard of living within your residence and improve the value of the home at the same time!

Rather than sit around and watch TV one weekend, decide on a new project for your home.  Map out a game plan, acquire the necessary supplies and go after it!


  • Door Stop said:

    Attic or loft conversions in the UK are very popular and research conduted by real estate agents show that adding a loft conversion is the most profitable home improvement project.

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