The Best Low-Cost Home Improvements You Can Make

These budget-friendly home improvements will help you enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the most value tomorrow.

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely.

Here are some affordable, low-cost home improvement projects that’ll help you enjoy your home more today and provide an excellent financial return in the future.

Add the Finishing Touch of Molding

chair rail in a palmeri by Domain Homes

Decorative molding is a classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans first installed it to add grandeur to their buildings. Centuries later, molding is still one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room. It’s a low-cost home improvement option that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.

Today’s wood moldings come in hundreds of options — from simple to ornate — that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. You can also find moldings in flexible materials, such as foam, that make installation a whole lot easier. Some moldings even include lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow.

Buyers consistently rank both crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home. And at $1.50 per foot if you DIY, or $8 per foot if you hire, it’s a no-brainer in terms of personalizing your home while adding value. 

A few tips about molding:

  • Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles to avoid overwhelming the room.
  • Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion. Rule of thumb: Place chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height.
  • Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.

Install Quality Ceiling Fans

tray ceiling in palmeri by domain homes

If crown molding and chair railing were in the top 10 on buyers’ decorative wish lists, what was at the top?

Ceiling fans.

Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd-pleaser. Once they were just a cheap solution to rising energy costs — ugly, wobbly, noisy eyesores endured because they were cheaper than air conditioning.

Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room. 

If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh coat of paint and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

Some tips about ceiling fans:

  • Ceiling fans should hang 7 to 8 feet above the floor. If you’ve got a low ceiling, buy a hugger ceiling fan that’s flush-mounted.
  • Size matters more than the number of fan blades. Go for the biggest Energy Star-rated fan that will fit the space.
  • Choose quality. You’ll get better cooling results, less noise, and good looks at a digestible price point of $200 to $600.

Plant Some Trees

tree in front yard of summerhill by domain homes

Say what? Adding trees doesn’t instantly pop into your head when you think of adding value to your home. But trees are moneymakers that get better with age and add to your curb appeal.

A mature tree could be worth between $1,000 to $10,000, says the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. A 16-inch silver maple could be worth $2,562, according to a formula worked out by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.

In urban areas, money really does grow on trees. A recent study of home sales by the Pacific Northwest Research Station of Portland showed that street trees growing in front of or near a house boosted its sale price by an average of $8,870 and shaved two days off its time on the market.

There’s more; trees also:

  • Save $100 to $250 annually in energy costs
  • Lower stress
  • Prevent erosion from downpours and roof runoff
  • Protect your home from wind, rain, and sun

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some tips:

  • Follow the sun. Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.
  • Follow the wind. Plant windbreak trees, which can lower winter energy costs by 30%, on the north and northwest sides of your property.
  • Don’t plant too close. If you do, branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage. Rule of thumb: Don’t plant trees any closer than the tree’s mature height plus one-fourth of that height. So, for example, if a tree reaches 40 feet, it should be planted at least 50 feet from any other trees.

Install a Patio

patio adds value coventry by domain homes

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space without actually adding on. Plus you’ll recover 30% to 60% of your investment. A $2,000 patio would return around $900 at resale.

But don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities, like an outdoor kitchen — especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much — if any — of your investment on kitchens and other high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional; patios are easy to install and you get more bang for your buck. 

Some wise advice when planning a patio:

  • Check property for slope, sun, and shade patterns.
  • Remember ‘dig alerts’ that utilities provide free of charge.
  • Don’t skimp on patio lighting. It can make all the difference in functionality and beautification.

Pump Up Your Home Security

The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless.

In reality, the price varies. You can buy and install it yourself for $50 to $300, or a security company can sell and install a system from $0 to $1,500. The “zero” is the hook companies use to lure you into signing a multi-year monitoring contract that ranges from $95 to $480 per year.

If a monitored system suits your needs, you’ll also get a break on your home insurance. Most companies will discount your annual rate of 15% to 20% if you have a security service.

Home security systems also make your home more marketable: 50% of homebuyers, according to the National Association of Home Builders, say a home security system — particularly security cameras — tops their list of most-wanted technology features.

You can go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks and a laser tripwire. Or you can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.

Tips:

  • If you do decide to go with a monitoring system, choose a company with a 10-year track record to ensure reliability.
  • Don’t rely on any system as your sole means of security. Locking doors and windows is still your best first-line of defense.

Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up. A UCLA study examined the sales prices of 1.6 million California homes from 2007 to 2012 and found that homes with Energy Star, LEED, or GreenPoint certification had, on average, a 9% higher price.

That finding is echoed in NAHB’s report that surveyed homebuyers across the nation: Nine out of 10 potential buyers would select an efficient home with lower utility bills over a less efficient home priced 2% to 3% less.

Add Some Creative Organization Systems

We don’t have to sell you on the value of storage and built-in organization. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Adding storage is a no-brainer, but it does take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage. 

Closets are some of the hardest places to find storage. But, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a neat closet. Getting a closet organizer is an affordable way to increase your storage and are easy to install as they typically come with step by step instructions. You can find them in any hardware store.

Here are a few ways to think outside of the toy box:

  • Open drywall to create storage cubbies between your wall’s studs.
  • Install platform storage that hangs from your garage ceiling.

Light Up the Outdoors

exterior lighting adds value image

Exterior lighting makes your home shine in the evening, accents features your beautiful curb appeal, and helps keep burglars away. A hard-wired lighting fixture can cost $150 to $250 to install. Installing motion-detecting lights can even lower some homeowners’ insurance premiums. 

And with technological advances in solar lighting, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to boost your home’s nighttime curb appeal.

Plus, 90% of buyers say outdoor lighting is on their list of desired home features.

Tips:

  • Place accent lights under your favorite trees to show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • If your lights are hard-wired, put them on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm white light. It’ll make your home look and feel welcoming.

Ready To Sell Your Home? Purchase From Domain Homes

Now you see how simple things like organization, paint color, window treatments, and lighting can improve the value of your home. Now it’s time to sell.

At Domain Homes, we believe in affordable luxury. Our homes offer storage, space, functional floor plans, and beautiful finishes so that your family immediately feels at home. 

We procure home sites in Tampa Bay’s sought-after, established neighborhoods including South Tampa, West Tampa, North Hyde Park, the Heights, and St. Petersburg.

You want a new home builder that strives to put the needs of your family first. At Domain Homes, we have designed our homes to include not only luxurious finishes but to have the utmost functionality while not compromising our commitment to deliver the best price per square foot for our Tampa homes. 

Contact us today or check out our list of available homes to get your journey started.

To stay up on all the latest home improvement tips and what is happening in the world of new home builders in the Tampa Bay area, follow Domain Homes on social media:

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