6 cheap home renovation ideas


Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets

Blog author Robyn Parets

Robyn Parets is a personal finance and business writer based in Boston. A former writer for Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and NerdWallet, Robyn is also the founder and owner of Pretzel Kids, a children's fitness brand and online training course. You can find her on Twitter @RobynParets.

Published August 2, 2016 | 4 min read

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It’s an age-old dilemma many homeowners face: You know your house needs TLC but you don’t have a lot of money to pour into costly renovations. At the same time, you want to make sure your improvements will pay off when the time comes to sell your house. Where do you start?Every home and situation is different. However, there are some key affordable home renovation ideas that will both improve on your space and boost the value of your house down the line. Not only will they boost your home’s resale value, but these inexpensive renovations will also make you feel better about your home and make it a more positive place to be. Here some valuable home renovation ideas that I’ve tested and you can use to cheaply increase your home’s value:

1. Kitchen and bath facelifts

You probably have heard that you’ll recoup much of your home renovation costs if you remodel a kitchen or bathroom. While this is usually true, you may not have the funds to drop upwards of $60,000 on a kitchen gut job. According to the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report, you will likely recoup $40,000, or 67 percent of that cost, when it comes time to sell, Nonetheless, this is still a hefty price point. For many, a kitchen facelift that costs about $20,000 is more palpable and will increase your resale value by almost $17,000, according to real estate education company FortuneBuilders.If spending $20,000 isn’t a possibility, small changes will still go a long way. Here are some options if you have less than $1,000 to spend: paint your kitchen cabinets and walls, replace outdated lighting with new fixtures, buy a new bathroom vanity on sale at a site like Wayfair.com and install it yourself, change out your cabinet hardware and swap that Formica surface for a new quartz counter (this could run you over $1,000 but it may be worth it if your counter looks like an episode of The Brady Bunch).

2. Up on a roof

Replacing or repairing your roof might not be what you want to spend your money on, but this is one project that you should definitely stay on top of, especially if your roof is leaking or starting to fall apart. In fact, 45 percent of realtors suggest adding new roofing before putting a house on the market and 32 percent say this improvement helped close a sale, according to the Remodeling Impact Report. Better yet, you’ll recoup about 105 percent of the value of your newer roof when you sell your house, according to the report.

3. Shut the front door

A new front door, particularly a steel door, is a sure-fire way to ensure that you’ll get your money back when you go to sell your house, according to FortuneBuilders and the Remodeling Impact Report. On average you’ll get back 75 percent of the approximate $2,000 it costs to replace and install a new front door. Oftentimes, you’ll recoup 100 percent, especially if you install that door yourself. (Although contractors charge varying rates, it’s not uncommon for a door install to cost at least $200.) In the meantime, you’ll boost your curb appeal and save energy as new steel doors are typically more energy-efficient than older models.

4. Do you live in a barn?

Well, probably not. But, you can add a bit of rustic or even contemporary flair to your home by installing a barn door, according to Zillow research. In fact, homes referring to the key words "barn door" in their listing descriptions sold for 13.4 percent more than expected and 57 days faster than homes without these doors. These trendy sliding doors are often used in bedrooms and kitchen pantries. I actually just spent about $1,300 at Rustica Hardware on a distressed grey barn door for my bathroom. We installed it ourselves and it’s definitely a showpiece in our new house. It remains to be seen whether we recoup this cost.

5. Not just any old kitchen sink

Taking another lead from Zillow research, I am about to install a farmhouse sink in my kitchen. According to Zillow, these generally oversized sinks that come in a variety of colors and finishes can increase your sales price by about eight percent over homes with regular old sinks. You can spend anywhere from $200 to upwards of $1,000 on a farmhouse sink. It’s a good idea to turn to Houzz.com for design inspiration and see the various types of sinks available.

6. Take the subway

Following on the heels of our number one improvement on this list, adding subway tile to your kitchen or bathroom will add both pizzazz and value to your home - at a fraction of the cost of travertine, marble or glass tiles. You can buy basic white subway tiles at various price points at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or a discount tile outlet in your area. You will likely love the clean, streamlined end result and so will future buyers. Case in point: homes mentioning subway tile in their listing descriptions sold for almost seven percent more than expected and 63 days faster, according to Zillow. Now that’s a reason to take the subway.