Don’t Spend More Than You’re Increasing
When my wife and I first bought our home, we were dismayed to discover that it costs more to have your home improved than it adds to the value of the house. Since we had bought a fixer-upper with the intention of “flipping” it over the course of the following few years and padding our equity a bit so we could afford a down payment on a more expensive house, this revelation was very unwelcome and unfortunate. However, there is a way to make a profit on improving your home, but it’s a long and hard road. First, we’ll give you a cautionary note, then we’ll talk about several ways you can increase your home’s value without spending more than you’re increasing it.
A Cautionary Note
Most of the things you can do to increase the value of your home are things that you are personally doing yourself, often instead of paying a professional to do them. With that in mind, there are city, county, and even state building codes that you need to abide by, and you are responsible for knowing what they are and whether they apply to what you’re doing. Also, there’s a reason there’s a market for professionals to do this work; not only can it be downright unpleasant, but it’s also very difficult, time-consuming, and even dangerous if you’re not trained on how to do whatever you’re trying to do. Be smart and judicious on spending your time on the things that will have the greatest return on your investment of time. Also, even when you’re doing all the work yourself, your supplies and materials will still be fairly expensive. Be prepared to pay good money for the good materials.
The Cheapest Ways to Improve Your Home
There are a lot of ways to improve your home that you shouldn’t need to hire someone for and are fairly cheap to do on your own. The first one? Your lawn and garden. Get your lawn green and lush by watering it, fertilizing it, and mowing it regularly. Weed your lawn and garden to keep those unwanted plants from taking over. Prune your trees and bushes, plant flowers, do whatever you need to do to make your outside look great. This is called increasing curb appeal. You can even consider adding a retaining wall or putting in a fence. A retaining wall is very simple but hard labor, while a fence is both hard labor and can be complicated. The second cheap way to improve your home is to replace old things with newer things. This can get expensive if you start talking about the kitchen counter, but replacing an old light fixture is fairly cheap and not too complicated as far as electrical goes. The same can be said about a bathroom or kitchen faucet. You can even replace the old linoleum with hardwood floor *relatively* easily and for not too much money.
When You’re Ready to go more Advanced
As mentioned in the cautionary note, the biggest factor in making a profit on improving your home is being willing and able to do the work yourself rather than hiring a professional. You will almost always increase the value of the home more than the cost of the materials, but not more than the cost of materials plus labor. Your best bet is to choose things that are worth taking the time to become proficient in to do yourself, and be willing to hire out a contractor to do the aspects you can’t do yourself. For example, my wife and I are planning on remodeling our kitchen, and the only aspect we aren’t willing to learn how to do ourselves is cut and mount the granite countertop. If that’s the only thing we hire out on our kitchen, then we’ll still easily come out on top. If you’re not comfortable or don’t have enough time to learn electrical in addition to plumbing, roofing, yard maintenance, and HVAC, then don’t be afraid to contract out someone for just the electrical portion.
By being willing to do things yourself, you can get your house done for much cheaper. Of course, you have to weigh how much your time is worth; if you spend so much time working on your house that you never spend time with your kids, perhaps you need to rethink whether it’s worth it.