January 09, 2020 at 4:09pm | Bob Bandy
 Owning a home gives you the freedom to customize your living space however you see fit—but just because you have that freedom doesn’t mean every home improvement project is a good idea. If you think you may want to sell your home in the future, you should consider the impact on your home’s value before you start any home improvement projects.
So which projects are likely to add to your home’s salability—and how can you maximize the return on your investment? Lets look at some of the top DIY value-adds.

Project 1: Finish your basement or attic.

Increasing the usable square footage of your home is the most reliable way to increase your home’s value. Converting unused areas like basements and attics into usable space is the only way to do this without building an addition.
The average return on investment in the US for a finished basement or attic is about 50-75%. This means if you spend $10,000 on the project, you’ll add around $5,000-$7,500 to the value of your home. It can also be a great chance to add “sweat equity” by installing the aesthetic touches yourself.
The cost of finishing a basement varies widely. The current condition of the basement is the biggest factor and may require alterations to the plumbing, electrical, foundation repair, and other costly upgrades. With attic spaces, the most significant costs are often installing permanent access and improving the insulation.
As far as what you do with the finished space—that’s up to you. Since basements often lack windows, they make excellent home theaters. Add an affordable projector, some surround speakers, and some seating, and you’ll have the neighborhood’s new favorite spot for viewing parties. Attic spaces, meanwhile, can make excellent extra bedrooms or playrooms for kids—especially if the ceiling clearance is a bit lower than in the rest of the house.

Project 2: Update your flooring.

Old carpet and cheap vinyl flooring can make a home look dingy and outdated. The modern aesthetic is shifting away from carpet and leaning more toward hardwood (either real or simulated).
The main advantage of hardwood floors is that they’re easier to keep clean, especially in high-traffic areas like living rooms and hallways. Hardwood also lasts longer than other flooring options—about 25 years on average, if cared for properly. That’s over twice as long as the 10-year lifespan for most carpets and vinyl flooring.
Hardwood flooring costs anywhere from $5 to $25 per square foot installed. Don’t rush out and buy the wood right away, though—you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find when you strip away the carpet, especially if you own an older home.
Switching carpet or vinyl to hardwood gives a good return on investment, about 70-80% of the project cost in most cases. While you don’t need a lot of DIY experience to remove and install flooring, it can be strenuous. The larger the room, the more time and effort you should expect to put in.

Project 3: Beautify your home’s exterior.

Curb appeal can have a big impact on how potential buyers feel about your home. It’s the first thing they’ll see when they come to your house, and you want to make a good impression. Start with the outside of the house itself. Replacing your siding or entry door can give a return on investment of 70-75%.
How your yard looks can have an impact, too. It starts with making sure the lawn and other plants are well-maintained; overgrown bushes and scraggly grass don’t make a home look very appealing. You’ll also get a great return on investment by adding touches like flowers or a garden—just make sure you’ll be able to keep them looking nice long-term.
If you don’t have time to maintain bushes or flowers, consider low-maintenance accents along your porch or driveway. Succulents like cacti don’t require pruning or watering. You could also put in a rock garden or perennial bushes. Along with giving your home more curb appeal, these improvements have the advantage of cutting down on your lawn space, reducing your time spent mowing.
The “Do”s and “Don’t”s of DIY home improvement
Projects aside, there are some general rules that you can follow to make sure your next project adds to your home’s value rather than lowering it.
  • Do plan your budget and timeline before you start. Figure out what tools you’ll need, and which of them you’ll need to purchase. You should also price your materials and decide if you’ll have to hire professionals for any steps of the project. Once you have a budget and approximate timeline, add about 10% to each for unexpected setbacks and expenses.
  • Don’t start projects you can’t finish.A half-completed DIY project will lower your home’s salability every time. Be realistic in what you can accomplish and only take on projects you can complete from start to finish. Establishing a budget and timeline before you start will help keep you on track.
  • Do update and modernize. Replacing old light fixtures and appliances can give your home a brighter, more modern feel. Even just a fresh coat of paint can have a surprising impact on your home’s value, and doesn’t require a lot of time or money.
  • Don’t over-personalize the design.Not everybody likes the same things. While you might adore that bright red wall or purple shag carpeting, potential homebuyers might not be as charmed. For salability, neutral colors are best for walls, ceilings, and floors.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of ways to increase the value of your home. Whether you’re looking for a weekend project or a full-scale remodel, keep these tips in mind as you start in on your next  DIY project.  
If you have questions about what projects are best, please reach out to me. I’m happy to help.

Thanks for Thinking of Me!
As a full time professional real estate agent, I can help you or any of your family and friends when buying or selling a home. Thank you for keeping me in mind, and trusting me with your referrals!

Marianne Bandy
Bandy Homes and Real Estate
Helping Denver Metro Home Sellers and Buyers since 2001


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