This is a guest post from Becky Wolfe at Fame to Freedom.
Budget Remodeling: How to Update a House without Going Overboard
When buying a home to live in (or as an investment), you want to consider a few variables before renovating. It is completely normal to think about all the cosmetic changes you would like to make as soon as you move in, but make sure you are not over-improving the home. You want to make sure that if you ever go to sell the home that you will get back all of the money you put into the home
I wanted to create a post with tips on how to remodel based on your neighborhood. This post will provide useful tips on how to remodel to your liking, but still stay within the parameters of what the neighborhood dictates as far as property value. It breaks my heart to see people remodel only to lose money on the house later.
Let me take a step back and talk about appreciation on the house first. The reason I am bringing this up first is because I had no idea what the heck appreciation even was until a couple years ago. I just want to explain it briefly so you know where I am going with this article and to maybe explain it a little more clearly. To give an example- say you buy house for $100,000 and you put $10,000 of work into the house. You have it appraised and the appraisal value after the renovation is $150,000, you already have appreciation on your home of $40,000! This is fantastic. It means, if you were to go and sell that very day, you could list your house for $150,000 and make $40,000 if someone bought the home.
So why should you care about this? Most people when they buy their first home, it is just that- a first home. They live in it for 5-7 years on average and they move on to another home. So how do you update your first home (or any home for that matter) to get extra value from it for when you move?
Here is a list of ways you can update your house based on the neighborhood to add value, but not go overboard:
Look at other houses in the neighborhood: Are there any open houses in the area? Go ahead and walk through them and see what other people are doing inside their homes.
Look on the MLS or Zillow: The MLS is the site that realtors use. It is called the Multiple Listings System, aka where all houses are listed. Realtors search this for their clients for prospective houses. MLS can be used by lay people also. Zillow is another great way to look for houses for sale in the neighborhood. You can search their photos to see what other people in the neighborhood have done on the inside of their homes
Specifically, pay attention to what the others houses look like: Are there granite counter tops or composite? Are there wood floors or laminate? Carpet? Tile in the kitchen? Try to stick with what other houses in the neighborhood are doing. If you want to put in higher grade countertops, consider saving money in another area.
Update kitchens and bathrooms first: Choose one or the other and go with it. Look at what is already in the bathroom or kitchen. Can you paint the cabinets? This will save you money, but it can really update the space. The antique look is in so you can make it look a little rough and it will be in style. Painting the cabinets can also give you a very clean look which is classic. That will never go out of style. This will allow you to spend more on countertops. Bonus!
Find tile that you like at stores that give deals: Check Ollies, Lowe's, Home Depot or even private sellers that want to get rid of tile. You can even check Craigslist believe it or not. Find something that will fit your budget for renovation.
Consider laminate over hardwood: There are some great laminate floors out there that wear nicely and would look great and look very similar to wood. Do you like any of them or could you make them work? I personally love laminate floors because they are durable. We actually use laminate a lot in our rentals. Check places like Lumber Liquidators.
When choosing paint, buy 5 gallons: Yes, I said it. Buy 5 gallons if you are painting large spaces the same color. Look for rebates on paint as they will oftentimes offer a rebate when you buy the 5 gallon size. Also, the paint will chip and wear. You will have the paint for touch ups later. We use Pittsburgh Paints and Stains from Menards and we have been very happy with the product. They have great rebates also. We have also used Behr from Home Depot.
Carpet: I hate to say this but buying carpet at Lowes and Home Depot is actually more expensive. Even when they offer the “Free Installation” for so many rooms, it ends up being more expensive. We found this out as we used Home Depot for a rental and we paid easily a couple hundred dollars more than we should have. Look at independent installers and compare prices. We belong to a flooring warehouse of sorts (kind of like Sam's Club for flooring) and we save money buying carpet this way.
Use spray paint for cabinet hardware: If you really want to reuse what is already in the kitchen, you can actually buy spray paint to cover cabinet hardware. We have used Rustoleum spray paint in espresso to update hardware and it works pretty nicely. Just remove the hardware, take it outside, spray it down, let it dry and put it back on. I can even do this. (Pssst….I am not very handy.)
Use appliance spray paint: This tip may rock your world a bit. It did mine when I first found out about it. You can actually buy appliance paint to spray paint appliances. It is under $10 and works great if you just need to update the color of the appliance like a fridge for example. To be clear, we have only done this in our rentals. We have done it twice and it worked great both times. Instead of paying hundreds for a new fridge, if you have one that works, but just needs some TLC, buy appliance paint. I just knocked your socks off, huh.
Phew! That seems like a lot of tips! Bottom line, it is so exciting to buy a new home, but please don’t go overboard when you are remodeling a house. Make sure you are cautious about how much updating you do. Make sure the updates fit the neighborhood so you aren’t spending a lot on updates and you still get a great return on your investment when you go to sell your house.
What other tips do you have for remodeling on a budget?
Becky Wolf writes about having an intentional focus on spending to create a life of freedom at her blog Frame to Freedom.