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Thinking about investing in home renovations but aren't sure what upgrades will actually bring a return of investment (ROI) in resale? Before you fork over your wallet, take a look at the best DIY projects to increase home value.
We are always up for a new home upgrade if it means saving money and learning a new skill! But most importantly, we believe there is a huge benefit in investing in your own home.
Despite inflation and real estate prices skyrocketing, the demand for homes continues to increase. Phoenix has seen an increase in home sales by about 20% year over year!
But while home values doubled from what they were just a few years ago, upgrades are usually necessary to make a home pop and sell fast when it hits the market.
Homeowners often make the mistake of spending thousands on large remodels they think are trendy, only to discover these updates quickly go out of style. Not only that, but many luxury upgrades don't payback anywhere near as much as they originally cost.
DIY Home Projects: What Not To Do
Whenever we were house shopping, we’d come across design styles and personalized renovations that just did not make sense. The upgrades weren't always tasteless, but many times they were too unique.
I can’t tell you how many times we’d say, “Well, this is interesting, and creative, but I’d probably change it if I moved in…”
For example: A solid black stone fireplace in a low-lit den, a large bathroom with 40% wasted space, a garage with so much storage a car could not park in it, a kitchen with a fridge in a random corner yards away from the other appliances, new carpet all throughout the house including the master bathroom, and bedrooms with bright paint, wallpaper, or hodge-podge accent walls.
Now, if you’re living in the house, by all means do what you like! But if you’re trying to resell, minor updates are vital to make your home a neutral, blank slate for buyers.
I’d even argue that even if you love your current home, you never know what might happen.
The fun part is knowing you can spend less than $5,000 on simple but drastically altering upgrades and see a home value increase of about $20,000.
Buyers often type in keywords for their ideal homes. By adding some of the below key elements and, thus, keywords into your home's description you could not only sell your home at top dollar, but you can do it in record time.
1. Exterior Updates
Curb appeal sells. When people pass by your home, you want them to do a double take.
When living in Phoenix and especially within an HOA, this can be quite difficult. Many homes look identical among the desert hues and pokey plants.
However, these exterior DIY home projects and chores are doable for anyone and may only require HOA's nod of approval.
But you don’t have to pay a landscaping crew to see a satisfying home value increase. If you live in Phoenix, you don’t even need lush grass or turf.
While a fresh gravel load can spruce up your yard, never underestimate your ability to weed it. Keep shrubs trimmed (and alive) with varying heights. Add pops of color either within your landscape vegetation or in plants potted on your entryway.
Exterior Paint or Veneer Stone Siding
Nothing sells a home photo better than a fresh coat of paint.
Painting over stucco (the most common home exterior material in Phoenix) is actually pretty simple. If you do it yourself, your biggest expense will likely be the paint unless you rent any equipment.
Another easy DIY project that increases home value is stone veneer on your home's facade. This finished look is an automatic curb appeal win, especially here in the desert where so many homes look the same.
Keep in mind, an HOA will likely need to approve both the exterior paint color and stone panels you choose to install.
Updated Garage Doors
This one probably isn't a DIY project, let's be honest. But according to many home buying and real estate studies, new garage doors have a huge ROI upon resale.
While you're at it, you should update your garage door motor if it's currently old and clunky. Won't hurt to install a keypad for easy access, too, if you don't already have one.
However, although updated garage doors can have a significant impact on home value, converting a garage into additional living space does not.
You might love the idea while you live in it, but since most buyers want an actual garage, a conversion just might plummet your home’s resale value.
Eye-Catching Front Door
Consider painting or even replacing your old front door. Again, the color may need HOA approval (most don't like red even if it's great feng shui).
Don't go overboard. You don't need a hand-scraped mahogany door from the Amish. A fresh coat of paint, a swept entryway, and a cute doormat are still cute touches for a homebuyer's overall impression.
Also, security doors are basically a must in Phoenix to enjoy the cool air in peak season. Unfortunately, they aren't exactly the prettiest. If you take your own real estate photos, I recommend keeping the security door open.
You may not have a wrap-around porch or columns and pillars lining your home's entrance. But you can still do your part to draw potential buyers' eyes toward your home.
- Keep shrubs and other foliage from covering the walkway up to your front door.
- Make sure all entryway light fixtures are cobweb free and put off adequate light.
The goal is to make your home inviting to prospective buyers.
They may not be coming by at night, but you will want to have photos taken during the day and at dusk. Plus, if the buyers are smart, they may even drive by your neighborhood at night to get an idea of after hours.
Clean and Smooth Driveway
Does your driveway have cracks, weeds, oil stains or debris littering it? Best get that taken care of before you post your home for sale.
Additionally, staining the driveway or wet-sealing pavers and step stones can dramatically improve a buyer’s first impressions as well.
Update Your Roof
If you have some extra capital to invest into your home, it’s worth getting your roof updated or at least spot-checked.
Even though repairing your roof might be pricier and possibly not a DIY project, it is an essential exterior upgrade. Not only will your home's resale value increase, an updated roof will ensure your home sells and passes inspections.
DIY Cost Breakdowns and Minor Exterior Updates
You could spend anywhere from $1000 to $1500 on stone veneer siding, depending on your square footage. But it could mean $3000-$5000 more in your asking price when you put your home on the market.
Painting stucco home exterior – If you pay a crew, $3,000-$5,000 on average. If you DIY, it will require some pressure washing (this one is $40 off on Amazon right now), filling in cracks, and possibly purchasing a tall enough ladder and paint sprayer for hard to reach areas. Since labor is about 80% of the cost, you will likely save a ton by doing this project yourself!
Gravel load - you could spend about $2000 for mid-range gravel, depending on your square footage
Solar yard spotlights - $60
Flower boxes to attach to window fronts or railings – less than $100
Wet seal for pavers or driveway - $80
New security door - $250+
You don’t have to spend 20 grand on a full kitchen remodel to see a worthwhile ROI. Although many aspects in a kitchen are large, the good news is almost each one can be updated by the homeowner at minimal cost.
Since cooking homemade meals and being a hostess is important to me, our first focus was DIY kitchen upgrades.
Mind you, I already liked the overall open and logical layout of our kitchen. I wouldn’t have bought the home otherwise.
The only thing I have to complain about still is how deep and, thus, disorganized our pantry cabinets are. Eventually we plan to expand it to a walk-in, shelved pantry so my need for organization is quelled, but that project is further down on our list...
Anyway, if all you have time and money for are minor kitchen upgrades, never fear!
A new faucet, kitchen sink, and updated cabinet pulls or handles can make a dramatic difference in a kitchen! If you can splurge a little, I personally recommend a touchless or smart touch faucet.
There are all sorts of options out there, but the best bet is to play it safe when it comes to design.
Brushed stainless is a timeless look for sink or faucet, as well as a white ceramic apron front sink and a black faucet that won’t show water stains as easily.
In addition, installing recessed lighting with smart or eco-efficient bulbs is a good move, too. People looking for homes will usually pass up a home that looks dark or dingy. Recessed lighting can fix whatever lighting issues your home currently has.
And don’t forget, not everything has to be bought brand new!
If your kitchen appliances are draining your electric bill, head to Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp for gently used ones to replace them. You can find new vent hoods, cabinets, garbage disposals, industrial shelving, and tons more kitchen products for sale secondhand.
This smart touch faucet has an extra $5 coupon to apply right now:
DIY Kitchen Cabinet Ideas
If your kitchen needs more than just a few minor updates, it most likely means your cabinets are screaming for attention.
Of course, the most common and totally doable DIY kitchen upgrade is to paint the cabinets, like we did to our outdated oak cabinets.
While the most popular paint option in recent years has been white, design trends show cream, black, navy, green, grey, and teal to be well-liked options as well.
Besides investing in small equipment like a mouse sander or paint sprayer, your only cost will be primer and paint. Oh, and like a week's worth of your time. But the end result really is worthwhile!
Consider putting in soft close drawer slides and hinges, too. This is one of those keywords you can plop into your home's for sale description that will make readers go "ooh."
If you just hate painting and want a quicker kitchen flip, look into open shelving. Whether you use industrial piping or go the floating shelf route, this trend does not seem to be stopping anytime soon.
One small con is that to store anything heavy on these shelves, you'll want to secure them to a stud in the wall, which doesn't always line up perfectly with your ideas. Just something to measure out before you get started!
Another word of advice, don’t get rid of too many cabinets. And don't get too creative.
How big is your home? If a normal to large sized family resides in it, they will likely need more cabinet space for dishes and kitchen devices. Not all of those items look nice displayed on a shelf for everyone to see.
Keep cabinet space on the bottom level in your kitchen and in the island (if there is one). Or, ensure there are additional closets and pantry space for storage nearby.
Here are a few ideas to implement for less than $100:
DIY Kitchen Countertop Ideas
Even if your old pressboard laminate (AKA Formica) countertops are chipping, you don’t have to replace them with granite or quartz.
These are some of the trendiest and cheapest alternative kitchen countertop options that you can DIY to increase your home’s value.
· Epoxy – durable, glossy, seamless, and heat resistant like marble, but at a fraction of the cost. Follow these directions to paint your own epoxy/resin countertops right over old laminate countertops.
· Paint – yes, you can get a minimalistic look by painting over old laminate countertops with Rust-o-leum or even chalkboard paint. I've done it!
· Concrete – a trendy DIY option lately, concrete is perfect for minimalist and modern home styles. Concrete countertops are durable, versatile, and easy to take care of. This tutorial is clear to follow if you want to make your mold, or this one if you would rather pour it in place.
· Butcher block, bamboo, or other wood – Pros: super affordable and easy to install. Cons: This look won’t work with wood-faced cabinets. They can also be a pain to maintain and constantly keep water-resistant.
· Ceramic tile – the main downside to this option is it requires grout, which can be difficult to keep clean over time. But there are tons of styles and patterns and it is pretty inexpensive to install.
· Laminate – these got a really bad rap for a while, but in all honestly, they have come a long way from where they started. If you just need to flip a home quickly, you can find tasteful and cheap options.
· Contact paper – basically, vinyl wallpaper can be used on more than walls.
· Recycled glass – Have you heard? Glass countertops are trending big time. Although not exactly super cost-efficient compared to others on this list, it is generally less than granite or quartz and even less porous.
You all saw the DIY stenciled tile project I undertook in my master bath. Now, while I love it in all its colorful glory, another home buyer may not. But the beauty is it wouldn’t be a problem to paint right over the designs and give it a fresh look for resale.
Likewise, instead of spending several thousand on a re-tiled walk-in shower, soaking tub, and a complete vanity replacement, here are a few other DIY projects in a bathroom that increase home value overall.
· Clean the grout – sounds simple, but cleanliness is next to godliness. Give your bathroom tile grout lines a good scrub (baking soda works wonders). You’ll be amazed how much of a difference it makes in real estate photos.
· Re-caulk around bathtub, shower, and toilet seals – this makes everything look new and less “lived in” overall, while also removing old residue and mold that could be growing.
· Update toilet seats and covers.
· Stain or paint vanity cabinets – I recently did this in our guest bath and was surprised how easy it was compared to my kitchen cabinetry. Took me less than a day to complete and it’s held up nicely. More on that project to come!
· Paint or epoxy the vanity countertops – In the same guest bathroom and on the same DIY project day, I sanded the solid surface countertop, cleaned it well, and applied Rustoleum’s white appliance epoxy paint in two thin layers with a foam roller. This easy DIY project turned a dingy beige countertop into a crisp and modern vanity.
· Replace faucets and matching features like towel holders, curtain rods, and shower heads – Whether you choose brushed stainless, black, rose gold, gold, or antique brass, the important part is to keep every fixture cohesive. If you can’t stand your shower closet’s old chrome or 80’s gold, take some black water resistant epoxy paint to this trim as well for a modern update.
· Paint mirror frames or replace with new mirrors altogether – Again, you’ll want to match the surrounding fixtures.
· Add a fresh coat of paint in the entire bathroom.
According to interior designers, flooring is a home’s canvas. A timeless flooring that flows from room to room is what sets the overall tone in a home.
There’s no doubt that buyers prefer hard surface flooring over carpet these days. Not only are they easier to clean, they are durable and generally water resistant and non-staining.
In fact, home buying studies show buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hard surface flooring.
But hardwood isn’t a necessity. For a timeless look that is easy to match with any home style or décor, laying down new vinyl wood flooring in a medium or light wood tone is cost effective and long-lasting. Plus, these shades tend to hide pet hair, dust, and dirt easier than ebony or cherry flooring with high gloss.
My husband and I installed this Woodland Alpine vinyl flooring last year to the bedrooms and living areas in our home. Not only was it a sinch, we are still super happy with how it looks and feels.
If you don’t quite have the budget or energy for vinyl or tile, there are a few other options, depending what your home’s current floors are now.
Stained concrete and epoxy are beautiful, modern DIY updates if your home is built on a slab. Another flooring option that’s been gaining traction is painted and stenciled floors applied either right on top of old linoleum or concrete surface.
Don’t forget to clean and touch up baseboards, too. A good scouring goes a long way!
5. Energy Efficiency
Last but certainly not least, another DIY home project to increase home value is to install energy efficient devices.
From cheap upgrades like convenient USB outlets, dimmer switches, and energy saving light bulbs, to mid-range water-saving toilets (or devices like this) and low flow shower heads, to higher priced smart thermostats, additional insulation, or even energy efficient appliances, buyers are willing to pay more for a home when they know they’ll save in the long run.
Final Thoughts on DIY Home Improvement Projects
Besides garage conversions, swimming pools and luxury upgrades also don't have a high ROI, even if they are nice amenities for a home buyer.
Of course, if a home already has these amenities, they could potentially increase the value. But you will likely not see a return of investment if you were to make these upgrades yourself.
Bottom line, do what makes sense for your home and your budget.
How much do you want to get out of it? How quickly do you need to sell while avoiding complications?
Remember, trends fade. Cleanliness and classic touches go a long way. There's a lot to say for regular maintenance on wear and tear and a home that's been looked after.
For budget and sanity's sake, focus your investment on one or two main areas. Be strategic about your upgrades to keep everything cohesive.
As mentioned, the exterior, the kitchen, and bathrooms are the most desired upgrades for home buyers. Dump your energy into DIY projects that enhance one or all of those areas and your home is almost guaranteed to see a huge increase in value.