Whether you are looking to increase your property's appraisal value with a view to a sale, or you just want to improve your living space, getting started on home improvements can be a daunting prospect. You may be asking yourself, “How do I implement home improvements to increase the value of my house without breaking the bank or committing to long-term building projects?” WM has some valuable tips that you can start implementing right away that will increase your home value. Get ready to see some results!
1. Plant some trees
If you have the space, planting trees outside of your home is a proven way to increase the value of your house. An Oregon study showed that having trees on a property increased the value of a house by an average of $8,870! Planting a tree and letting it grow can add as much value to a home as adding a new bathroom, and can be done in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. Trees can also potentially decrease the amount of home your house spends on the market by 1.7 days, according to that same study. This is obviously a benefit when it comes to resale, but don’t forget to think about the upkeep of the trees, which may require regular maintenance. You might also want to consider getting the neighbours involved as their property value will also increase if they live within 100 feet of the trees.
There are a number of environmental benefits to having trees on your property, as well as reducing noise, increasing privacy and helping with storm drainage. They can also reduce your air conditioning and heating costs by blocking the sun or cold winds, according to this study from the USDA Forest Service.
Some tips: Don’t plant below power lines and plant any deciduous trees on the west side of a house because they will give you shade in the summer but in the winter months they will lose their leaves and let daylight in. To help with warmth you can plan evergreens to the north of your home. You can even work out the energy saved, depending on tree used and location, with this online tree benefits estimation tool.
2. Do a deep clean
If you already have a fantastically clean home, then you can just tick this one off the list. But let's face it, family homes become messy in no time and dirt quickly gets engrained, especially in areas like the bathroom and kitchen.
One of the benefits of getting your hands dirty and cleaning your house is that you can also give your home a quick audit while you clean in order to make a list of jobs both big and small that need fixing. And any of these small jobs such as painting or making repairs are that much easier when you are working in a clean and clear space.
If you think your house needs a deep clean and you are short on time, ask around and hire some local professionals. This will be money well spent and your house could be transformed in a matter of hours. After that make a plan to stay on top with regular cleaning and tidying. A good idea is to have spot-cleaning kits upstairs and down.
3. Minimize your clutter to maximize your visual space
If you have pets and children, or even if you don't, you know how quickly clutter can get out of hand. But a clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger and this quickly translates into increased value as it becomes more attractive to potential buyers. They want to view a clean, clutter-free house and to be able to imagine themselves and their belongings inside it. Like cleaning, decluttering your home is an easy way to immediately increase your home's appeal and it costs next to nothing to achieve. Ultimately your aim is to visually increase the space that your home offers. A clutter-free house is easier to keep clean, and costs you nothing but time.
4. Embrace containers and storage solutions
So, you have decluttered and cleaned, but how do you stay on the straight and narrow? Whether you live in a big old house that lacks closet space or a compact city apartment, finding a spot for everything and keeping it there can present a challenge.
When buying storage solutions and built-in organizers. Look for units that use all of the available wall space, including below-ceiling space for bookshelves and hanging items. Also make use of under-bed space for storage using drawers or small crates. Another trick is to use mirrors to increase light and create the illusion of more space.
Control the chaos of cords and cables with velcro, tape, or cable ties. You can also screw small hooks to the underside of a desk to bundle up your wires and keep them out of sight. We love this creative list of small space living hacks.
Not only are you increasing value by creating space, but you will also always know where to find your things.
5. Reinvent your interiors with fresh paint
If you want to transform a room, nothing is quite as effective in terms of both time and money as a paint job. You'll save money if you can do it yourself, but if you lack the time or skills, get the professionals in. For around $200-300 per room it will not be money wasted.
Choose your colours wisely. If you’re looking to maximize your home's resale potential, play it safe by going for a calm, neutral color palette of greys, beiges, whites and off-whites, remembering that lighter colours reflect the light and help to create a sense of space. They also allow prospective buyers to imagine themselves in the space.
You can add a dash of personality with your choice of colourful soft furnishings (curtains, cushions, throws or towels in the bathroom) and other non-permanent and inexpensive items like mirrors and artwork. You could even add a feature wall with a different colour or texture.
You don’t need to paint every room in the house to add value. If you have any rooms with very brightly coloured walls, start there. Bathrooms and kitchens will always benefit from a fresh coat, whereas other rooms might simply require touch-ups to give them the lift they need.
If you are going DIY on this one, make sure that you choose paint that will do a good job of hiding old paint. And don't forget that you can add to the effect by revamping your old furniture – bookshelves, night stands, tables, and chairs – with a lick of paint.
6. Give the exterior of your house a facelift
They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, so whether it’s an appraiser or a buyer who is looking at your home, you want that first impression to count. Start by assessing the overall curb appeal of your house. How does it measure up to others in the neighbourhood? Make a list of the issues that you need to address, such as broken downspouts and missing roof tiles.
The first step to enhancing your curb appeal is to give the front of your house a facelift. Start by washing your exteriors and windows and if necessary, give the facade a fresh coat of paint. A freshly painted house looks like a well-maintained house. There is a huge range of paint on the market and if you are going the DIY route make sure that you read the paint instructions before you start, especially those related to prepping the surface and the required air temperature. Ensure that the surface is dry, paint from top to bottom, and always work on the shady side of the house to prevent the paint from drying too fast, which could result in a flaky finish. Check out these smart tips on exterior painting.
Pay special attention to the front door and perhaps take the opportunity to add a splash of glossy contrasting colour and upgrading fixtures. Don't forget the garage door! You might also consider updating your house number or name plaques and your mailbox to complement your fresh new exterior.
7. Tidy your yard
Having a well-maintained garden is key to making a good first impression. Keep your lawn looking good with regular mowing and clean-cut edging, and it may be worth investing in a sprinkler system to cut down the work involved in upkeep. Any time-saver in the eyes of a potential buyer adds value. To this end, you may want to consider planting a natural garden that includes native plants and doesn’t require any additional maintenance or more water than the rainfall in your region typically provides.
When raking leaves, wait until the ground is dry to prevent damage caused by ripping the grass out at the roots. Add a fresh layer of mulch to your flower beds to smother out the weeds, and trim any overgrown shrubs. Ensure your walkways are swept and clear of moss and weeds. You might also consider adding in some new evergreen shrubs and potted plants.
Check your outdoor furniture to see if it could benefit from a new coat of paint or varnish. To make your garden more inviting you can also invest in some brightly colored deck chairs and cushions. You way to make your yard more appealing is by getting your BBQ area ready for action and installing some exterior lighting. Lighting your walkways with solar lights not only adds beauty but safety as well.
8. Eliminate dull or harsh lighting
Nothing kills a mood faster than bad lighting, and if you want to show your home in the best light you will have to do exactly that! A quick and affordable fix is to install light-control dimmers on switches. Not only does this add drama and ambiance in areas such as the dining room and bedrooms, it is also good for energy efficiency.
Lighting is particularly important in the bathroom, where it should be warm and bright. To create this effect, choose wall-mounted up lights rather than harsh overhead lighting. Keep lighting even around mirrors to prevent unwanted shadows when you are shaving or applying makeup.
The kitchen, the heart of many a home, is another room that can instantly be improved by tweaking the lighting, and new fixtures will give the room an updated feel for a reasonable cost. You could also consider replacing a central overhead light fixture with track lighting to allow you to direct light for particular tasks. You may also want to invest in LED under-cabinets lights to eliminate any dark corners.
Also, don't forget the role that natural light plays in a house. Let it in by keeping your windows clean and ditching light-blocking window treatments. You can also maximize your light by hanging mirrors on adjacent or opposite walls to your window to reflect light and give the impression of more windows. Painting your ceilings a little lighter than the walls will also help to make a room feel brighter.
9. Upgrade your flooring
If your stained, threadbare carpet needs replacing, consider installing or uncovering hardwood flooring instead. Buyers increasingly prefer hardwood to carpet and and Genworth Canada estimates that the installation of hardwood floors and/or tile can have a return of 5-6 times the initial investment.
But before you go crazy with the sander, consider a few points. Some people people prefer carpet in the bedroom as it provides a softer, warmer surface and helps to reduce noise in rooms below. However, if you have or wish to install hardwood floors in the bedroom, a few strategically placed rugs could deal with both of these issues.
10. Make your home more energy efficient
The problem with energy-efficient measures is that there’s generally a higher upfront cost than the alternative. If the slightly higher costs of LED and CFL light bulbs concerns you, take the long term view and realise that by changing to more energy efficient bulbs you will be affecting your energy costs permanently. Even replacing outdated appliances with Energy Star-rated ones can pay dividends in the long term.
In the bathroom, check your showerhead for hard-water deposits. You can also save money on your water bill by replacing showerheads, taps, and toilets with low-flow models.
Make sure all your doors and windows have proper seals – even garage doors. Many people overlook this simple practice and wonder why their energy costs are high. Ensure that any filters in your heating or AC system are changed regularly. Install ceiling fans and use them instead of turning on the air conditioning on warm summer days, and you can also reverse the fan blades to help to push the much needed warm air downwards during the winter.
Another way to keep your heating and cooling costs to a minimum is to replace outdated insulation with newer options such as spray insulation, which does a better job at sealing cracks and holes. If you want to take it a step further, book a home energy assessment with a professional who will audit your property and make recommendations on ways that you can improve your overall efficiency. Boilers, heat pumps, furnaces, and air conditioning systems, for example, can be upgraded for more energy efficient models.
Having an energy-efficient home will save you money, preserve the environment,and help you sell your home. Ensure that any new improvements to your property also improve energy efficiency. Grants may be available towards the cost of an energy audit and energy related home improvements. There are also various mortgage options available for environmentally-conscious home buyers who are renovating their homes to improve energy efficiency or buying new energy-efficient builds.
11. Future-proof your home
Focusing on the liveability of your home in the future will ensure the value of your house going forward and make it attractive to buyers. Making your home energy-efficient is a good first step, and your next step may involve thinking about ways to make your home smarter with technology that allows automated control over aspects such as heating, lighting, alarm systems, and air conditioning. If you’re planning an upgrade for your home wiring, consider the future of internet and data consumption and how your requirements and technology may change in the future. No one has a crystal ball to see where technology will take us, but it’s wise to include an extra conduit for any extra wiring that you may want to install in the future.
When making any changes in your home always look ahead as much as possible and anticipate the needs of future senior occupants of your home or how you might see yourself living there in a few decades.
12. Eradicate unpleasant smells
We all love our pets and they are an important part of family life, but let's face it – nobody ever welcomed a dog into the family in order to enhance the value of their property. Even so, you don't want the smell to be the thing that visitors remember when they leave. Short of sending your animals away (which some people do when they are trying in earnest to sell their home), there are plenty of tips and tricks to minimize the impact of your furry friends on your living environment.
If you have pets, keep them and all their accessories clean. Try to keep your pets off the furniture by creating space for them and providing them with easy-to-wash bedding. You can't stop your pet from shedding but you can take on the challenge of removing animal hair from furniture with a simple sponge wrapped in duct tape.
If you have cats make sure you have at least one litter tray per animal and a good tip is to add baking soda to the litter to help control odours. Baking soda also works on carpets if you give them a good sprinkling before vacuuming.
Pets are not the only cause of dubious smells, of course. And musty odours, which may indicate the presence of mildew or mould, give prospective buyers justified reason for concern. You can alleviate bad smells by simply airing your home regularly and investing in a dehumidifier to tackle areas with damp, but mould outbreaks need to be dealt with with a scrubbing brush or detergent. Natural odour neutralizers such as ONA gel can also be effective in bad situations. If these don’t improve the situation, then you’ll need to have professionals come in and handle the mould removal, including taking a look behind the walls/into the floors and ceiling to investigate how far the mould has spread. Which brings us to . . .
13. Know your limits
It's great to stretch your DIY muscles where you can, especially when it saves you some money, but sometimes you're better off calling in the professionals.
You should always choose your projects wisely and consider whether or not you have the skills and the tools to complete it properly. Then ask yourself if it is worth the time and effort. Remodelling your kitchen or the bathroom on your weekends, for example, could take a very long time and cause maximum disruption. On the other hand, you might do well to hire contractors to do the plumbing and tiling for these projects but then take care of painting and installing small fixtures yourself.
As general rule, unless you are a DIY expert, steer clear of major electrical or plumbing work. It's a small investment to call in an electrician and plumber for a few hours to assess your electrical services, fix loose wires, locate and repair faulty outlets, and identify and fix any water leaks. These are the kind of details that signal to a prospective buyer that a home has been taken care of and this will positively affect the price.
If you are going to do the job yourself ask yourself if you have the necessary tools. If not, should you buy, rent or can you borrow them? Even if you are not a natural when it comes to DIY you should still invest in some essentials for your tool kit for some of those small jobs around the home. Having the right tool for the job, if only to hang a picture, will save you from making costly mistakes.
If you haven't bought your home yet don't forget you can visit our mortgage calculator to find out exactly what your options are