I am consistently asked by clients, friends and family what to spend their money on when renovating a house. So, I'm making my answers public! Hopefully these 5 renos will help you get the bang for your buck you wanted.
- Kitchens and Bathrooms. If you look in any magazine or watch any real estate or decorating TV shows, you should know by now that kitchens and bathrooms SELL! If your kitchen is 40 years old, or your bathroom looks like it belongs in your grandparents' house, it might be time to do some updating. That doesn't mean you need to spend $50,000, though. Keep in mind that a little paint on the cupboards, new hardware, and maybe even a new countertop and faucet can make a big difference. Tiling your floor is usually pretty inexpensive as well, since the square footage is usually small.
- Roof. Everyone is scared of the roof. When I'm showing a home, it's one of the first questions I get... "So, how old is the roof?" If you don't know, it's probably time to change it. I know it can be a big expense, but this is one thing you don't want to cheap out on. Get longer life shingles (not black - it attracts the heat!) and get them installed professionally unless you have a standard A-frame type house that's easy to do. Always re-shingle the whole roof...time and again I see a homeowner who just did one side of the roof. Not only does it look bad, but it also looks like you don't care, even if you do. And don't underestimate the power of good ventilation. Even if your roof is 5 years old, it can decay very quickly if the air flow in your attic isn't good. Spend $300 extra and get a high quality vent.
- Windows. This is another big expense, but it can usually be done a few at a time to make paying for them easier. Efficiency is very important for buyers, as well as low maintenance. Wood frames are notoriously difficult to maintain, and if they've been left alone for too long they just rot away. If you're on a budget, look for windows that were ordered the wrong size for another customer by calling your local home improvement store!
- Furnace / AC. High efficiency furnaces are really important to buyers. You can have a great furnace that's 20 years old that you've been taking care of since you bought it, but eventually it will need to be replaced. If you can't afford a brand new one, at least maintain the one you've got to the best of your ability. You can buy inexpensive maintenance plans from your local Heating and Cooling company and they'll take care of everything!
- Paint. One of the easiest things you can do to give your home some new life is some new paint on the walls. Do one room, or the whole house! For a small amount of money, you can transform your living space. Check out current magazines for the newest colour palates, and go crazy! You'll love the end result.
- Landscaping. You have the option of doing a little or a lot! It's all about colour. Go to your local nursery and find the brightest colours. Look for plants with various heights. Ask for help when making your final decisions based on your soil, amount of sun/shade, and how much maintenance you want to do, but this is fun! It can really make a big impact, and curb appeal is so important.
I know. You're thinking that these are really expensive renovations. Keep in mind that you should be saving money every year to maintain your home, preferably about 5% of your home's value each year. If you have the cash saved up, you don't have to worry about financing or taking out a line of credit. Even if you're not planning to sell anytime soon, do these renovations for your own happiness! You would be surprised to find out how many people tell me - after they've done my recommended renovations to sell - that they wish they had done it years before! This is your home. Enjoy it!