Want to boost your property’s value with DIY home improvements before selling or leasing it, but strapped for cash?
You’d be amazed how much you can do yourself, even if you’re not exactly Tim the Toolman Taylor. Sure, you may not be knocking down walls or installing new HVAC systems, but you can add some serious value to your property with no experience and very little money.
Many of these DIY home improvement ideas coincide with the property upgrades with the highest return on investment to boot. Most are cheap enough to put on your credit card, but you can also look into ways to finance property renovations as well. Beyond your standard investment property loans, explore lining up unsecured business credit lines and cards through Fund & Grow; they average $150,000-$200,000 in rotating credit lines for their real estate investor clients.
Here are ten ways to get your hands dirty and whip your property into shape DIY-style!
1. Replace the Front Door
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your front door with a steel entry door returns 68.8% of its cost in higher value when you go to sell. And that’s if you pay someone else to install it.
But why pay someone else to install a door? With a screw gun, some pizza, and a friend, you can replace a door on your own. All you need to buy is the door itself. And the pizza.
That means spending $250-400 on the door, instead of the average total cost of $1,881, and you’ll boost your home’s value by an average of $1,294. Not bad for a day’s work, eh?
2. Get Serious About Curb Appeal
One reason that upgrading the front door works so well is that prospective buyers and renters make up their mind within seconds of approaching your property.
That means that first impressions and curb appeal matter a lot. So what can you do to boost your curb appeal, and make a stellar first impression?
First of all, scrape and paint any surfaces with flaking paint. No brainer.
If your property has a front lawn, it should be trimmed, mowed and landscaped. Coiffed. Primped to perfection.
You can consider planting bushes, shrubs, trees, etc., but we’re trying to save money here, not splurge, so proceed with prudence.
One simple tactic is to add potted plants. This works whether your property is urban or rural; you can line the sidewalk or entryway for a cheap, easy DIY property win.
3. Power Wash the Siding
Along similar lines, make sure the siding is spotless. If you don’t own a power washer (and let’s face it, most of us don’t) then rent or borrow one.
Operating one of these bad boys isn’t exactly rocket science. It makes an easy DIY home improvement that anyone can undertake.
Your siding should positively sparkle with cleanliness. First impressions matter!
4. Touch Up the Bathroom
Most bathrooms offer low-hanging fruit for DIY home improvement ideas – you just need to identify them.
For example, replacing the hardware on the cabinets and repainting them is a quick and easy way to liven up the bathroom. You can recaulk around the toilet, tub, and shower to keep waterproof seals, well, waterproof.
If you have ceramic tile on the floor or shower walls, touch up the grout. You can buy grout that just squirts out of a caulk gun; it works just like caulking.
Repaint the walls. Replace the faucet and/or handles. Resurface the tub if it’s looking stained and gnarly.
Try to put yourself in the mindset of a prospective buyer or renter, and see the bathroom through their eyes. What looks dated or dirty? What can you do with a little money and a weekend to freshen it up? Enlist your spouse and kids to help you brainstorm bathroom DIY home improvement ideas… and of course to help you with the work.
5. Add Dimmer Switches to the Lights
Dimmer switches are cheap – about $15-40 apiece depending on style. And just as appealingly, you can swap them in yourself.
Read an article or two about how to not electrocute yourself, but it really is as simple as unscrewing the light switch plate, pulling out the electrical box, disconnecting wires from the old switch, and reconnecting them to the new switch. It’s not as scary as it sounds, and anyone can knock it out as a DIY home improvement project.
Dimmer switches are a cheap, easy way to show off how “modern” your property is, and makes for a simple demonstration to elicit oohs and ahs from prospects as they walk through your property.
But seriously. Read an article or two beforehand or watch a YouTube video, so you don’t blame me if you fry off your eyebrows.
6. Go Green & Smart for the Price of One
With a few cheap upgrades, you can market your property as a green home and a smart home. In many ways, green and smart home technologies have actually been merging toward one another for several years now.
Start with a smart thermostat. It costs about $200, reduces energy costs, and pays for itself within a year or so.
Then snag a smart security system that includes air quality monitoring. Once again, several birds are dropping with one stone here: boosting security, safety, smartness and it sounds eco-friendly.
And the coup de grace? Install new fiberglass attic insulation. Remember all the way back in Tip #1 when we mentioned that steel entry doors are the second-highest ROI home upgrade? Well, fiberglass attic insulation is the big kahuna. It’s also the only home upgrade with a positive return on investment, recovering 107.7% of its cost in higher home values.
Better yet, that figure includes the cost of paying someone else to install it for you. If you do it yourself, you’ll score an even higher ROI of several hundred percent.
Here are more smart home ideas if you want to make your property even smarter.
7. Polish & Refinish Those Hardwood Floors
When I was a kid my grandmother would hand me a pair of thick socks and a can of floor polish, and tell me to get dancing.
If your floors are scuffed and scraped, you can sand them first. If not, just clean them and start polishing! There’s nothing like gleaming hardwood floors that positively shine. Sure, you can use a machine polisher, but assuming you don’t have one handy, just do it by hand (or foot). It’s an easy DIY home improvement idea you can tackle in a single day.
And hey, conscript your children or grandchildren to help you out. Free labor for you, and “character building” for them – a win-win, right?
8. Give Your Kitchen a New Look
Kitchen renovations often slip into the five digits. People just can’t help themselves, they get excited and just spend-spend-spend.
That’s not what we’re talking about here.
I’m talking about simple DIY projects in your kitchen, to give it a new look without blowing $4,000 on new granite countertops.
If your cabinets are old, paint them. If your countertops are gnarly old Formica or cheap composite, replace them with a butcher’s block.
Or if replacing them is over your head, then just cover them with a butcher’s block.
Swap out the cabinet hardware. Replace the faucet. Cover the gross old laminate flooring with a giant throw rug. Get creative, and don’t hesitate to scour the Internet for inspiration and see what other DIY home improvement ideas strike you around the kitchen!
If your creativity needs further stimulation, here are more cheap kitchen and bathroom hacks you can do yourself.
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An oldie but goodie, as DIY home improvement ideas go. Fresh paint can do wonders for any room, so grab a brush and have at it!
Pick neutral colors for most rooms. Only get more adventurous if you feel quite confident in your interior decorating ability. And that confidence has been validated by at least three reliable, unbiased sources!
Brighter, lighter colors tend to make most rooms look bigger and more welcoming that darker colors, but there are exceptions.
If you haven’t done much painting in your life, the cardinal skill is actually not painting, but taping. Be meticulous with your taping, so you don’t have to be a perfect painter.
And, of course, recruit help. Children, grandchildren, friends, family. Go heavy on the pizza and beer bribes. With enough people you can knock out an entire house in a day.
Just be sure to do all the taping before everyone dives too greedily into the beer.
10. Clean It Spick & Span!
Speaking of sparkling, every part of the inside of your home should be flawlessly clean. That goes double for kitchens and bathrooms.
That doesn’t just mean mopping floors though. If you live in the property, it also means decluttering and depersonalizing it as much as possible. As my stepfather always says, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Or sell it, donate it to a nonprofit, or give it to a friend or family member who could use it. Whatever “it” is.
Most people don’t think of cleaning their home when they brainstorm DIY home improvement ideas. But Consumer Reports estimate that simply ensuring your home is clutter-free and spotlessly clean can boost home values by 3-5%. Talk about the easiest ROI win ever.
Bonus Idea: Take More Professional Photos
While not a DIY home improvement idea per se, better photos make the most of your hard work. After all, what’s the point of putting in all that blood, sweat, and tears if no one can see the fruits of your labor?
Rule #1: Don’t use your smartphone camera for your property listing photos. Borrow a real digital camera from your photography-buff friend.
Yeah yeah, I know, your phone camera has “just as high of a megapixel count!” as your friend’s camera. Megapixels actually don’t mean very much, in the grand scheme of photo quality, so stop objecting and just borrow a real camera.
Take photos in plentiful natural light, during peak daylight hours. Try low-angle shots, from crouching down, then hold the camera high for high-angle shots. Take eye-level shots, and shoot from the deep corners of each room to make it look larger.
Get multiple angles of the best rooms in the house. Include fewer photos of less impressive rooms.
Take your photos very, very seriously. They’re often the first thing that prospective buyers or renters see, when they come across your listing. (Further reading on listing photography tips and writing irresistible rental listings).
Better yet, just offer your photography-buff friend a six-pack of beer or a bottle of nice wine to come take photos herself of your property. Let her work her magic, so you don’t have to channel your inner Ansel Adams.
Who Needs Huge Budgets, Anyway?
You don’t need a mammoth budget, or even much skill to knock out most of the DIY home improvement ideas above. Personally, I don’t know a hacksaw from a jigsaw puzzle.
These are all good entry-level DIY home projects, to build confidence and even more importantly, add value to your property’s sale price. All of the above projects will yield incredible return on investment – especially since you’re doing the work yourself!
Save some money on contractors and cleaners, get your hands dirty, and you’ll feel an incredible satisfaction afterward. And that’s before you even cash that plump, juicy check!
What repairs have you made yourself? Any DIY home improvement tales of glory (or horror)? Regale us!
I painted my half bathroom one time. I’m not sure I even did that well. But it sure felt good afterward!
I painted over two oak kitchens and swear I prob got 10-25 k more on sale because it looked new. Paint should be number one and second is knobs . I replace old round knobs with dark polished knobs $400 entire house .
I am determined to get some dimmer switches installed in my home. My husband refuses to do work around the house, so I’m going to figure it out myself! Can’t that hard, right? (famous last words)
Very cool ideas. Think I’ll try a few of these out, try to get a little more confident knocking out basic home updates myself! Worst case scenario I just pay someone the same I would have paid them anyway to get some of these things done
Excellent recommendations to improve saleability and or rent-ability of a property. All the articles I read are very good.
Thanks Nelson! Greatly appreciated 🙂
Awesome ideas. Going to try a few these while I’m stuck at home for the next month!
Thanks R., glad you got some good ideas out of it!
Nice stuff here on DIY work. I have helped a lot of people with some outdoor work too and that’s something people often ignore until they’re about to sell the property. So not just powerwashing siding, but actually repairing it too.
Thanks for the pro tip Johnny!
Such great ideas! When the quarantine started, I also touch up my bathroom and made some renovations to my kitchen. Now I’m thinking about painting our walls with new colors. Thanks fo sharing this!
We renovated the kitchen to make it more lively and the tenants loved it. I assume it did some magic so I am going to try other tips here too!
Glad to hear it Jenny!
These are great ideas even after pandemic! I have a new project in mind. Wish me luck!
Keep us posted on it Eli!