Budget-Friendly Home Improvement Projects
Change Out the Lights
Bring those old ’70s ceiling lights into the 2020s by replacing them with modern-but-classic fixtures. Make sure you choose lighting that can handle the space and light requirements, and stay within the wattage guidelines when you install bulbs. And whenever you work on electrical projects, turn off the power before starting.
Walls Can Talk
You could see an uptick in your ROI by painting the rooms with a few cans of high-quality paint. Stick to neutral or soft pastel colors that renters can live with. Many consider white walls to be passe, and flat gray can be boring if overused.
Curb Appeal Matters
Spiff up the front with colorful flowers and neatly trimmed shrubs. If your yard is flat and unappealing, plant trees that will eventually offer shade—and a potential 10% increase in your property’s value.
Redo Bathroom Caulk
Bathroom caulk can attract mold and will yellow with age. Cracked caulk lines will allow water to soak behind walls and floors, causing more grief in the future. Remove the old caulk with a putty knife or similar tool, and clean the area with a bleach and water solution before replacing it with a clean new bead of silicone caulk.
Don’t Ignore Your Fans
Do the bathroom fans make a rattling noise? It’s an easy fix. Many new bathroom vent fans will fit the existing space, or you can replace the motor in the old one. Make sure you cut the power before starting work on the project, and clean up any dust or debris inside the space before installing the new fan.
Upgrade the Thermostat
Energy Star reports that homeowners can save up to 8% of their heating and cooling bills by switching to a smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats are available for less than $30, so it’s a win on the savings front.
Change Doorknobs and Deadbolts
Changing the interior and exterior doorknobs to matching finishes and styles can make a bigger difference than you might think. Plus, you’ll add a level of security by replacing loose keyed knobs and adding deadbolts to the exterior doors.
Make a Splash With a Backsplash
Get rid of that grease-stained area behind the counter with peel-and-stick tiles or vinyl that you cut to fit the space. If you aren’t up for that kind of project, paint with washable latex paint and stencil or paint a scene for a unique look.
Restyle the Mirror
Many older homes still have those awesome wall-size mirrors above the bathroom sink—but they lack any style. Frame them by cutting trim using a miter box, and install the frame with adhesive.
Now that you’ve mastered the bathroom mirror, go bigger by creating door panels out of inexpensive MDF, then painting the door one solid color. It is an easy way to bring a classic look to a room.
Trick Out the Baseboards
You don’t have to remove that skinny baseboard to upgrade the room. Cut complementary trim, install a few inches above the existing trim, and paint both the trim and wall in between the same color. You will have the look of a wide baseboard trim without the cost. While you’re at it, replace those old heat registers and vents with metal or wooden vent covers.
Swab the Deck
Brighten up the deck or stone pathways of your home by cleaning mold and debris from the surface. You can rent a power-washer from your local home improvement store, but don’t get power-hungry with the attachments. Choose a spray that will clean the area without damaging it.
Upgrade the Hardware
Replace those old cabinet knobs or pulls with classic choices to immediately update the kitchen. Measure the “spread” between the two screws on your existing hardware, or take one with you to compare to new ones. Make sure the attached screws are the same length as the old ones or buy proper lengths of screws for your cabinets.
Drain the Water Heater
No one will notice this project, but it will save you money and keep plumbing problems from eating into your rental property profits. Drain a few gallons of water from your water heater two or three times per year to clear sediment at the bottom of the tank. This keeps the buildup to a minimum and allows the heater to work efficiently and last longer. Turn the gas and pilot light off or unplug the unit before starting and check the heater for leaks, which could cause headaches down the road.
The Bottom Line
Time is money, so use your downtime to your advantage and add some upgrades to your property. The investment is sure to pay off with higher quality tenants who may be willing to pay more for those upgrades.