Getting the Most Bang for Your Renovation Buck

Everyone enjoys an updated home. Problem is, not everyone agrees on which updates are smart investments. If you are planning to stay in your home long term, by all means, make the changes that will make you most happy while you are there. However, if you are considering selling your home within the next two to three years, I’d like you to keep the list below in mind.

While I’m at it, I’ll let you know the improvements I think you can tackle yourself if you are the do-it-yourself type. I’ll also recommend when to leave it the pros; and mention a couple of projects I think you shouldn’t do at all if resale value is any consideration.

Please keep in mind, when I recommend doing it yourself, this is meant for those that have a moderate level of craftsmanship. If you call a handyman to change a light bulb, by all means, call a pro for everything!

DIY = Do it Yourself LTP = Leave it to the Pros DDA = Don’t do it at All!

Kitchen Updates

The kitchen is the hub of most homes; the place where everyone gathers. Creating a space that feels bright, open and clean is important and these things appeal to home buyers.

DIY: Some of the most impactful changes you can make in the kitchen are those many DIY-ers can tackle. New light fixtures, a nice new sink, updated faucet and new cabinet hardware are like jewelry; they can add just the right amount of sparkle and finish off an otherwise basic kitchen.

LTP: Of course, buyers also love natural stone counters and stainless appliances. While we think these are great investments for the outdated kitchen, we recommend leaving these to the professionals. And if your kitchen is closed off to the rest of the home, taking out a wall, or even creating a half way can make a huge impact.

DDA: We don’t recommend removing doors from cabinets, or worse, replacing cabinets with shelves. This might seem like a great idea on television where people don’t actually live, but let’s face it, most of us don’t have every dish that matches just perfectly. One shelf, one open cabinet, or a couple of glass-front cabinets to display your best china are nice, but please be practical and try not to fall for trends that will be gone tomorrow.


Much like the kitchen, outdated bathrooms are hard for some buyers to get past.

DIY: A good place to spend your money in the bathroom is on a new vanity, a new toilet and updated light fixtures. In addition, if you have a pink bathtub or any other non-neutral color (hello 1985!), consider re-glazing it instead of replacing it.

LTP: If your master bathroom has no window, but could accommodate one, it is a good idea to add it for the natural light, which makes the room look bigger. If you live in an older home that only has one bathroom, adding a second full bath is always a good investment. And by all means, if any of your bathrooms have wall-to-wall carpet, rip it out and put down a hard surface such as ceramic tile or travertine. That’s just gross.

DDA: A bidet.

Going Green

Buyers are more eco-conscious these days and they like homes where the sellers are too.

DIY: Storm doors help insulate, reducing your heat loss in the winter and cool air loss in the summer. They are also a great way to add natural light to your foyer without completely opening your front door. Ceiling fans are another way to cut down on cooling costs in the summer.

LTP: If you have older windows you are likely wasting a lot of energy. New double-hung windows will not only save you money on your energy bill, they are the kind of big ticket item that buyers don’t want to take care of after closing.

DDA: Unless it’s the norm in your neighborhood, you probably won’t recoup the cost of adding solar panels to produce your own energy.


DIY: Curb appeal is very important when you are ready to sell your home. Nice landscaping is something that will make your home stand out from the rest. Some of the easiest and fastest things you can do in your yard is adding plants, flowers and mulch to your beds. Just be sure to keep things pruned and plant them at the right time, in the right location in your yard.

LTP: Everyone likes green grass and a sprinkler system is the best way to keep it that way. This is a tough job to tackle, so definitely don’t go it alone unless you are highly skilled and very patient.

DDA: A pool is not a good investment if you are considering resale value. If you plan to stick around a while and know your family will enjoy it, then go for it. Just keep in mind, most people don’t want the upkeep or liability that comes with a pool.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings

Like the carpet in the bathroom, who thought popcorn ceilings were a good idea?!

LTP: There’s not DIY here unless you really know what you are doing. You can damage your ceiling if you don’t do this right and the mess it makes is truly unbelievable. It’s a project that we believe is worth the expense, but you need to have someone with a great deal of experience undertake this job.

I hope this list helps you as you decide what updates to consider on your home. Before you buy materials and begin any project, please contact me. I can help you with specific recommendations for your home. I will analyze your home’s value, show you comparable homes that have sold, and together we can develop a strategy for updates and resale.

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