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Home Improvement Projects That Stretch Your Dollar the Farthest

Monday, February 3, 2020   /   by Sarah Graham

Home Improvement Projects That Stretch Your Dollar the Farthest

We all know home improvements can improve the value of our house. But here’s the real question: Which home remodeling projects have the biggest impact, and more importantly, which ones fit a reasonable budget?

Home improvement spending has grown by 20 percent in just two years and is expected to increase 7 percent more in 2019. It’s all for good reason. Moving is one way to get your dream home, but if you already own, making strategic upgrades can change the quality of the house you’re living in and potentially increase your investment.

If a total house flip isn’t in the cards this year, as it isn’t likely to be for many, starting small with some high-return DIYs can have a significant impact on your home’s appearance.

These DIY jobs can make your dollar go the furthest--even better, you could tackle most in a weekend:

  1. Replace your bathroom vanity top with granite or marble.

Installing a new vanity surface can have a big impact on your bathroom. You can find a pretty good selection at most big box lumber stores. The prices range from $150 to over $700 for a double basin granite sink vanity top. Your vanity top should come with a sink basin attached to the bottom side and have three drilled sinkholes. You’ll need a hammer, a level, a caulking gun, nails, and silicone adhesive.

Here’s how to nail it:

Install the plumbing into the three holes before you put the granite top on the vanity.

Glue the granite top to the vanity with adhesive in the caulking gun.

Check to make sure it’s all level once it’s set up.

2. Install faux plank flooring made of vinyl.

As a DIY project, this one takes only a few hours, and the result is impressive. If you plan to sell in the future, consider that 87 percent of buyers want “cleaner” hardwood floors, and budget-friendly vinyl comes close. Faux vinyl pieces are also sold in boxes small enough to haul in your car.

Here’s how to nail it:

You don’t need to rip out the floor, just install it on top of the existing floor.

You will have to remove the baseboards and reinstall at the end of the job.

Start laying out the pieces in the middle of the room and work out to the edges to create something as close to symmetrical as possible.

3. Upgrade your window or door casing.

In most instances, windows are framed by casings, a stool, and an apron, and you should buy matching pieces at a lumber store. Doors, by contrast, go down to the floor sash, and you may be able to just upgrade the casings. Check it out before you start.

Here’s how to nail it:

You can buy upgraded parts at a home lumber store to replace each piece.

Add a crown molding on top to really impact your interior.

The upgrade requires a hammer, small punch, finishing nails, power drill with bit, a utility knife, and a pry bar.

This DIY is inexpensive and impactful. The cost will run around $75 a window.


4. Paint the exterior of your home with multiple colors.

It might be time to spruce up your home’s exterior, so this DIY should be a routine cost rather than a special expense. It’s an opportunity to improve the outside of your home and even the neighborhood. The idea is to switch from a one-colored house to a two- or even three-color exterior. This has a significantly greater impact than simply changing the color.

Here’s how to nail it:

To achieve a multi-colored home, paint the siding in the first color, the corner boards and soffits in the second color, and the window frames in the third color.

Don’t rely on your color sensibilities to do this. Go with tried and true schemes. Mix and match from pro-picked exterior paint colors that include neutrals, soft yellows, dark and light blues, and grays.

Also, check out professionally prepared color schemes in pictures or model homes to get more options.

5. Create a repurposed furniture kitchen island.


It’s become a trend to repurpose types of furniture like bedroom dressers, bookshelves, dining buffets, or utility carts and transform them into kitchen islands. The trick to a successful island is to make it both practical and natural-looking. The advantage of an island with caster wheels is the mobility. A favorite surface to install on top of repurposed furniture is a butcher block table top.

Here’s how to nail it:

Scour flea markets, thrift stores, and antique shops for an attractive base.

Visit a lumber store for a countertop. A 4-foot natural butcher block kitchen countertop runs around $120 at a big box lumber store.

Look for freebies. It’s hard to put a price on old furniture. You could get it for hauling it away.

6. Replace the cabinet doors of your kitchen.

Rather than gut your kitchen and rebuild it from scratch, remove the cabinet doors and replace them instead. The fun part is the surprisingly low expense.

Here’s how to nail it:

The lumber yard has an exciting variety of cabinet door replacements to choose from. Browse their selection, and you can quickly see how it will radically flip the look of your kitchen.

The job requires a screwdriver and a power drill and bit.

If you have a screwdriver bit for the power drill, this DIY goes faster.

Since the cabinet door face is the most visible part of the cabinetry, the effect is immediate. The cost will run about $75 a cabinet.

7. Remove a door.

By removing an unnecessary door, you can update your home without tearing down walls. Open floor plans are popular. While many older homes were built when people liked the privacy of closed doors, today people want a more casual space.

Here’s how to nail it:

By removing doors that separate rooms, you can achieve an easier flow through rooms. The bigger the door opening, the better.

If you have double doors that separate rooms, the potential success is greater than a single door, but a single door removed can make a difference too.

The door hinges leave scars, but you can fill in the scars with wood filler or replace the door jamb.

Replace the jamb with the same type of wood, and finish or paint.

The cost should run less than $50.

8. Restore the front entrance door.

An older home often has a beautiful front entrance door that has lost to years of use and layers of paint. And wear and tear can cover up some nice millwork. Once restored and refinished, an entrance door can boost a home’s curb appeal right away.

Here’s how to nail it:

You have one of two options. Strip the paint and stain the door with a wood look you like, and then put a finish on it. The second option is to paint the door.

A popular color that “pops” for entry doors today is red. Jet black, smoky, or charcoal doors also sell for $6,271 above average.

The brass work can be cleaned up or replaced. You’d be surprised what a difference something as small as restored brass door hardware can make.

The cost can run around $50.

Is there money hidden in your house?

If you haven’t looked at your home equity lately, it could be time for a check-in. Plenty of homeowners — especially the ones who are remodeling — are surprised to find that they’re sitting on more cash than they estimated. As you pay off your mortgage and your equity grows, you could use this extra cash to cover larger home renovations, wedding and college expenses, debt consolidation, healthcare, vacations, emergency funds, and more.

Epique Realty - Justin Graham Team
Justin Graham
9465 Counselors Row, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46240
317-800-0950
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Approved Mortgage, A Winterwood Mortgage Group
107 N State Road 135, Suite 301 Greenwood, IN 46142
Phone: (317) 882-2255
Email: dc@approvedonline.com
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