smart spending

10 cheap fixes to boost the value of your home

Looking for ways to spruce up your home without putting yourself in the poorhouse? Whether you're getting ready to sell your home or want to spiff it up inexpensively for your own enjoyment, we've got 10 good strategies for you to consider.

The actual cost and payback for each project can vary, depending on both your home's condition and overall real estate market values in your region of the country.

Boost your home's value
These simple upgrades can easily add thousands of dollars to your home's value.
10 cheap fixes
  1. Make your kitchen really cook.
  2. Give appliances a facelift.
  3. Buff up the bath.
  4. Step up your storage.
  5. Add a room in a week or less.
  6. Mind the mechanics.
  7. Look underfoot.
  8. Let there be light.
  9. Reframe your entry.
  10. Consider curb appeal.

1. Make your kitchen really cook. The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential home buyers make a beeline for this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated.

For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones.

If you've got a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. "Rather than spring for a whole new cabinet system, which can be expensive, look into hiring a refacing company," says serial remodeler Gwen Moran, co-author of "Build Your Own Home on a Shoestring."

"Many companies can remove cabinet doors and drawers, refinish the cabinet boxes, then add brand-new doors and drawers. With a fresh coat of paint over the whole set, your cabinets will look like new."

If you're handy, you can order your own replacement cabinet doors and door fronts from retailers like Lowe's Home Improvement or The Home Depot and install them yourself.

2. Give appliances a facelift. If your kitchen appliances don't match, order new doors or face panels for them. When Nicole Persley, a Realtor in Boca Raton, Fla., was sprucing up her own home to sell, her mix-and-match kitchen bothered her. The room had a white dishwasher, microwave and wall oven mixed with other pieces that were stainless steel with black trim.

When Persley called the dishwasher manufacturer to see about ordering a new, black face panel, the customer service representative clued her in on a big secret: Many dishwasher panels are white on one side and black on the other.

"All I had to do was unscrew two screws, slide out the panel and flip it around. Sure enough -- it was black on the other side!"

Persley, who has remodeled numerous homes for resale, says that a more cohesive-looking kitchen makes a big difference in the buyer's mind -- and in the home's resale price.

3. Buff up the bath. Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. "Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the look of the bath," says Moran.

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Moran also suggests replacing an old, discolored bathroom floor with easy-to-apply vinyl tiles or a small piece of sheet vinyl. "You may not even need to take up the old floor. You can install the new floor right over the old one," she says.

If your tub and shower are looking dingy, consider re-grouting the tile and replacing any chipped tiles. A more complete cover-up is a prefabricated tub and shower surround. These one-piece units may require professional installation but can still be cheaper than paying to re-tile walls and refinish a worn tub.

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