If you’re like most homeowners, you can easily identify a host of improvements you’d like to make to your home such as increasing closet space, sprucing up the yard, redoing the roof or repainting the living room. And the list probably goes on and on. You might hesitate to start checking off the list due to cost or difficulty of the project, and in many cases rightly so as many projects take a lot of time, skill, tools…and dough.
There are, however, many far easier, less expensive ways to fix up your property and add value to your home. Most will cost you about $100 and should take no more than a weekend to finish.
1. Flag it.
Is your backyard lacking in the welcoming department? You can create an outdoor patio in one weekend with flagstones available from most home-improvement outlets, no mortar or special tools required. Add a few potted plants, some outdoor chairs, a table and voila! You’ve created your own backyard oasis.
2. Fan it.
Installing a more efficient ceiling fan will trim your utility bill, and not just on warm days. The circulating air also better distributes heat in cold weather.
Installing a new ceiling fan may seem like a daunting project, but it’s not. Most ceiling fans today come with step-by-step instructions. If your ceiling-fan fixture also has light bulbs, now is the time to replace old bulbs with energy-efficient ones. Just be sure to shut off the electricity before you begin this project so you don’t risk electrocution.
3. Get unhinged.
You can easily ditch that functional but remarkably ugly interior door with a bright new one or perhaps the antique door from grandma’s house. Think about upgrading to a solid-core door, too (many doors today are hollow), which will dampen noise more efficiently than a hollow-core door. Exterior doors aren’t hard to replace, but can cost considerably more than interior doors with price tags in the thousands of dollars.
4. Shade is a bright idea.
Window shades do more than block the outside view; they help control the amount of radiant heat and light coming in, which will save you money. Installing new shades or blinds might seem complicated, but all you need is a tape measure, drill and drill bit. If you are mounting on drywall, make sure you use wall anchors to secure the brackets or the whole shebang will come tumbling down.
5. Back into the closet.
Turning a closet into a home office is a venerable urban-dwellers’ practice to create a room where there was none. It doesn’t even have to be a walk-in closet, just large enough to hold a small desk, chair and perhaps some shelves. Just unhinge the door – keep the hinges on, though, if you think you may one day turn it back into a closet – repaint the walls if necessary, then move in. If there are no electrical sockets, buy a sturdy extension cord and run it to the nearest socket. This DIY project is one you’ll want to be reversible, though, in case you sell and the future homeowners prefer the storage space.
Xeri-what? Xeriscaping is landscaping using hardy plants that require little to no irrigation or care. People living in the southwestern United States have practiced xeriscaping for decades, but over time, it has caught on nationwide. For best results, use drought-resistant native plants. Cacti are some of the more popular candidates, even in the toughest winters. Buffalo grass, blue grass, fescue and other hardy grasses are popular in the Midwest. To minimize water waste, group together plants with similar light and water needs and implant accordingly – species requiring more water under the waterspout, species requiring a lot of light in a location with southern exposure.
7. Signed, sealed, delivered.
If you have an older house with a mail slot, swap it for a new, no-draft mail slot with internal brush strips. This will keep out dust and dirt, heat and cold and muffle street noise, too.
8. Install a pet door.
In, out. In, out. Are you a mere doorman for your pet? Join the crowd.
We’ve saved this one for last because installing a pet door requires taking a door off its hinges, a jigsaw and a steady hand. Even metal and sliding glass doors can be cut with the right saw. The most important thing, though, is cutting the correct size of hole. Its width should be about two inches wider than the widest part of your pet, its height about two inches taller from the top of the pet’s shoulders to the chest, just behind the front legs. Keep Fluffy or Fido as still as possible when measuring. Then double check! Most pet doors include a template; just place the template where you want the pet door to be (at least three inches above the bottom edge of the door), tape it in place, and then saw away. You also will have to drill holes in the door to install the pet-door frame.
If these projects require more handi-work than you’re prepared for, try eight other projects that may seem more doable.