Home improvements tend to inspire thoughts of large, expensive projects. Yet, it is often the little things that add so much value. Do you want to improve your home for resale or personal pleasure but don't want to spend a lot of money? Here are 10 improvements for under $100 each.
A tired old mailbox detracts from your home's appeal. Replace it with a new one made of quality materials. Depending on the style that best suits your home, you can choose brass, iron, or other materials. You can put one of those cute green mallards on it, or some other visual motif calculated to offend the neighbors.
Anything at the front door will affect your enjoyment of your home as well as a prospective buyer's impression. Replace that worn, dirty doormat with a fresh new one.
3. Street numbers
Make your house easy to find with bold street numbers in brass, iron, ceramic, or other quality materials.
4. Trees or shrubs
Landscaping is one of the best home investments you can make. A well-placed tree or shrub will add to your enjoyment and increase resale value. For under $100, you can choose from a wide selection of quality nursery stock and plant them yourself. If you like, you can play with some of the gardening software that's out there and get an idea of what your work will look like. Try to plan it out in advance; you can add a shrub at a time.
5. Perennial garden
A perennial garden will bloom year after year. This permanence makes it a landscaping fixture and thus adds value to your home. If you prepare and plant the garden yourself, your $100 will buy a good stock of perennials. For the best enjoyment and value, take the time to measure your property and use graph paper to design the best placement of the garden. Many nurseries also offer free help with garden design.
Spruce up a room with a new paint job. The average room can be transformed with about $60 to $80 worth of paint (and that should also cover the cost of a paint roller and brushes). If you want to improve buyer appeal, then avoid trendy color schemes or overly personalized treatments. Choose from a wide selection of neutrals and timeless colors. If the room is a "problem room" -- small, narrow, dark (oops! that's a closet!) -- you can get even more value with a paint job that visually corrects the problem.
If your doorknobs are made of cheap material (plastic, for example) or they're just worn and tired, replace them with quality knobs of brass, glass, or other suitable materials. You will appreciate the better quality each time you open a door. Prospective buyers will also notice them as they go through your house. It's roughly the equivalent of "let's slam the car door to see what kind of quality we're looking at here!"
8. Light fixtures
Cheap-looking, ho-hum light fixtures downgrade a room. Quality light fixtures can increase your own satisfaction as well as buyer appeal. The best return on investment is in the bathroom, kitchen, and at the front door. Quality, well-designed light fixtures for these areas can be found for under $100.
9. Light switches and outlets
If your home is like many, it probably has basic plastic light switches and plugs. The easiest improvement anyone can do is to upgrade the light switch covers. The best places to do this are in the bathrooms, kitchen, master bedroom, and at the front entrance.
If yours is also an older home, it probably does not have GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets. These outlets (identified by the red reset button) are used wherever water increases the risk of shock. To improve safety and add value to your home, replace regular outlets with GFCIs in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and anywhere that water is present. This is an easy do-it-yourself job for anyone who knows electrical repairs (always cut the power at the main panel). If you are not familiar with how to safely replace an electrical outlet, hire a qualified electrician. This will push the cost over $100 but it will be worthwhile.
Corroded, tired-looking sink and bathtub faucets detract from your bathroom and kitchen appeal. While designer faucets can cost many hundreds of dollars, there are many quality, tasteful sets for less than $100. If you decide to upgrade bathroom faucets, it is worthwhile to buy matching sets for the sink and tub. Faucet replacement is an easy do-it-yourself job that requires only a few common tools (screwdriver, wrench, pliers) and an hour or two of your time.
These are just some of the under-$100 improvements that will add to your enjoyment and your home's resale value. As you look around your house, you can probably find other low-cost, high-value improvements