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Homeowner's Guide: DIY Home Improvement

Guide to DIY Home Improvements
Written by
January 19, 2023
/
6
min read

Whether you want to build equity, fix an old leak, add value, keep up with trends, or just improve your house, every homeowner begins the process of home improvement. DIY projects can save money and provide a sense of accomplishment. 

There are many routes one can take to raise the value of their home, so in this article, we will recap how to choose a starting point, common problems, tips, and tricks, as well as the typical mistakes made during the home improvement process (and how to avoid them).

Whether a DIY pro or a novice, this manual will advise you on the next project.

Choosing a suitable home improvement project

There is no "perfect" DIY task. Picking the project depends on four factors: Goal, Budget, Skills, and Timeline. This guide will narrow down the possibilities.

Home improvement goals

The first step is to determine what you hope to garner. Below are four objectives you may want to accomplish, along with the best projects to achieve them.

Energy saving

Renovations for energy efficiency add immediate market value by lowering the energy bill. Even if it is by a fraction, the money saved adds up. You are also helping the environment. 

The idea behind these improvements is that you stop wasting energy by either using it more efficiently or evading the source of energy loss altogether.

  • Attic insulation: Depending on the age of your home, it may be time to add padding in the attic. Extra insulation will help your house stay at a preferable temperature and relieve the HVAC system, meaning extra savings on the energy bill. 
  • Efficient appliances: Although a more expensive route, it is one of the simplest methods for saving money on the power bill. To find energy efficient products, check out this website. You can also purchase energy-efficient light bulbs, which saves the average household 225$ every year.
  • Double-paned windows: Installing double-paned windows can save 24% on energy bills.
  • Thermostat upgrades:  If your central heating and cooling unit is dated, adding a programmable thermostat may reduce energy use.

Home maintenance

The DIY projects listed below are the most common home repairs. These may not add glamour, but they add value, and getting them done will make your home more complete.

Several items on this list get overlooked by many homeowners. They may not be urgent modifications, albeit, a few of these simple fix-ups will increase your quality of life.

  • Leaky roof: Although you may need a team of professional contractors to replace your roof, fix minor leaks and even do so at a lower cost. It is not the most straightforward, but with the correct tools and know-how, you can patch up those leaks in no time. Forbes has a great article on How to Fix a Leaky Roof.
  • Rotting wood: If you have a rotting wooden beam, fixing it will save you trouble. If the rot has affected a small portion of the beam, cut it out and fill the area with wood putty. If it is in the center, you may have to replace the beam. 
  • Repairing leaky gutters: Leaky gutters lead to more problems. If gutters leak, it means one of two things. Either they are clogged and need a good cleaning, or they are broken, in which case you want to replace them.
  • Fixing faucets: While leaky faucets may not cause damage to your home, they are annoying. Plus, the fix may be as simple as tightening down the faucet. If there is damage to pipes, call a qualified plumber, to avoid accidents.
  • Removing mold: If mold develops in your home, a 3-hour soak in a bleach solution followed by a thorough rinse should fix it. If not, try ammonia or vinegar. If it is a significant mold problem, or if it continues after the bleach soak, this article offers more in-depth solutions.
  • Fresh paint: Adding a fresh coat will make your home feel newer. Even if the paint isn't peeling, it may have stains or discoloration. A simple coat of the same color can have a massive impact on your home's interior. Painting, while a simple project, will require time, especially if you do more than one coat. While you can break it up across a few sessions, it is best to finish one whole room at a time. Otherwise, you may notice inconsistencies.

Adding value

Below is a general guide to picking the improvements that will add the most market value. The most valuable project will differ on a house-to-house basis. An excellent place to start is to go from room to room and think about it from a potential buyer's perspective. Which room looks the most dated? Maybe the bath is cracked and discolored, or the shag carpet in the bedroom starts to show its age. 

If you are still at a loss, check out the following suggestions.

  • Kitchen: The kitchen is the most fun and customizable space in a home. You can do several projects here. Extra space? Putting in an island, maybe even one with a butcher board top, adds more usable storage and counter to a kitchen. If the counters are getting old, consider replacing them with granite. You can get new cabinets, change the backsplash, upgrade appliances, or add a wet bar. The possibilities are limited by budget and time.
  • Bathroom: Bathrooms, in particular the master bath, is another area where potential abounds. Lighter projects include shelving, upgrading the lighting, repainting, or adding tile patterns to the walls. If you are interested in something more substantial, you can replace the floor, upgrade the sinks, upgrade the toilets, or even add a Jacuzzi.
  • Living space: Upgrades to the living room can make guests feel more comfortable, and is one of the first areas that prospective homebuyers notice. Adding something as simple as an accent wall could add value. Most older homes have a fireplace in disrepair; fixing that will be a nice touch. Hardwood floors/new carpets also make the house more admirable.
  • Garage: The garage often gets overlooked. It can function as so much more than storage for the lawnmower. To make a simple home improvement, you could re-do the floors, add windows, add more storage space, or paint. More in-depth projects may include adding a loft, converting it to a gym or hobby space, insulating the garage, and turning it into another room.
  • Attic: Although briefly covered earlier, several improvements can add value to an attic, other than insulation. Consider adding flooring, and providing more storage space. You could even renovate the space into a loft. Depending on the house, this last option will be more complicated. To change the routing for electricity or add new paths for the AC, this project may be too much for even the heartiest DIY gurus. 

Street appeal

Whether to have a well-groomed look when the in-laws visit, raise the market value or keep up with the neighbors, doing a few simple DIY projects can increase the street appeal of your house. Also, your HOA may have restrictions about what can be placed on a front lawn, so check the rules before starting.

  • Yard: Maintaining the lawn can transform a property. Even if you hire pros to do the work will make your house more pleasant to look at. Aside from frequent clippings, the grass may have different needs. Consider investing in a sprinkler system to keep the grass lively in dry climates. General lawn treatment includes pest control, fertilization, weed control, and fungus protection. For a lawn that will last for years, ensure you care for it. This means more than just mowing on a regular basis. 
  • Gardens: Many houses have garden beds lining the front of the home; however, few homeowners use these to their full potential. Apart from being a fun hobby, maintaining the flower beds can add a fresh splash of color and charm to a home. If the gardens are in disarray, start by re-bedding them with new tarps and mulch, replacing the barrier, and adding a few accent stones. You can also find out what grows best in your climate. Adding biodiversity with different flowers and shrubs is also keeps things interesting.
  • Windows: Clean windows in an appropriate frame not only adds natural light to the space but also boosts a home's curb appeal. For upgrading windows, the first step is to see if the window pains need replacing due to cracks or discoloring. After that, look into having them professionally cleaned. Although it is possible to clean them yourself, Albeit, it will be easier for someone with the proper tools. After the windows have been cleaned and replaced, consider buying new shutters. Tasteful shutters are a minor detail that adds a lot to your home.
  • Roof: A roof needs to be cleaned and maintained. A good start is taking note of significant discoloration or pooling water. If the roof is 30 years or older, you may consider a complete replacement. You will likely need a contractor because it is a labor/skill-intensive project. 
  • Door: Replacing the front door is simple. Getting new hinges, an attractive door, and an stylish door knob will add a lot of value to your home.
  • Siding: A siding replacement is worth looking into. This requires the expertise of a professional siding contractor. They will assess the condition of the siding and make recommendations. If you consider a total siding replacement, keep a few things in mind. First, siding is a significant investment, so choose a durable material. Second, think about the climate. Consult local experts to determine what works best for your area. You can do minor patching or painting without professional help if the siding has cracks or stains. Although siding may seem like a small detail, the minor improvements make a major difference. 
  • Cleaning: Consider power washing to clean walls, roofs, driveways, decks, and sidewalks. Buying one, renting, or hiring a professional to power wash the surfaces will eliminate years of grime and make them look brand new. 

How to pick the appropriate home improvement project for your budget

Staying within budget is challenging for some  DIY novices. Suppose you yet don;t have a comprehensive plan. In that case, you may pour money into a project that should have been finished a thousand dollars ago. To stay within budget, one must plan everything. Research how much it costs and what can go wrong. 

After this, list all materials, tools, and hired labor needed. Plan to overpay for everything; if it is cheaper than expected, you have cash left for the next home improvement.

A great way to save money on a DIY project is to rent/borrow the tools. If power tools are required beyond your current toolbox, local supply stores offer them on a rental basis. 

Another great way to save money on home improvement is to find friends willing to help. Buying pizza and beverages is cheaper than hiring a contractor. Alas, make sure they are capable of completing the task before they even begin.

Common home improvement blunders

Several stumbling blocks can turn a home improvement into distress. Compiled below is a list of the typical pitfalls.

  • Form over function: In the excitement of a new project, it is easy to overlook the functionality of a given space. You may have an excellent plan for your bathroom, but if the idea inhibits its use, itl lowers the home's market value. You can do it, but consider the functional impact of all renovations.
  • Cheap materials: The price tag on materials plagues many would-be DIY renovators. More often then not, you pay for what you get. If you choose to use the cheapest wood for your new garage storage, it will break or look worse than the better wood five years from now. You can buy the most expensive lumber; instead. Keep in mind if an offer seems too good to be true,  it is probably a scam.
  • Trendy: Although keeping up with the trends can be a fun way to rejuvenate things, also consider longevity, especially with significant renovations. A good rule is, "if this trend dies tomorrow, will I still want this in a few years?"
  • Going against the style: Although doing something unique can be interesting, albeit,  keep all renovations in line with the architectural style of the home. In essence, to preserve the retail value of the property. 
  • Neglecting the experts: Get professional advice before beginning a DIY project. If the pros decide something is a bad idea, it often is. 

Conclusion/resources

By this time, you have all the details for your next DIY project. If this article generated the perfect idea, but you need help executing the project, check out these helpful forums.

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Homeowner's Guide: DIY Home Improvement