As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and Americans are stuck at home, more people are strapping on their tool belts and tackling home projects, according to a survey by Realtor.com.
Among those surveyed, 47% either started a DIY project at home or planned to start one soon. Whether you simply want to take on long-overdue projects or you’re looking to put your home on the market, there are plenty of ways to spruce up your space.
Here are six do-it-yourself projects that can add value to your home.
1. Make your home more efficient
There are many ways to improve your home’s efficiency without breaking the bank. You can make your home safer with smart indoor and outdoor security cameras, while smart thermostats help your HVAC system run more efficiently, and EnergyStar-approved appliances can help trim your utility costs.
In some cases, smart devices are even considered during the home appraisal process, which means they can help raise your home value.
It may come as no surprise that 40% of surveyed real estate agents said smart appliances make a home easier to sell, according to a 2018 Coldwell Banker report.
Out of all the smart thermostats we’ve tested, our top pick from Emerson is compatible with Alexa, Google, and Apple, and costs about $130. You can also take a look at more devices, from smart plugs to leak detectors, that can help you save money.
2. Make basic repairs
If you’ve lived in your home for years, you may stop seeing the minor scrapes, dents, and damages that a prospective buyer would immediately spot. But, it might pay to open your eyes.
Go through your house and look for things that need to be repaired. These may include an old roof, leaky faucets, dented doors, torn screens, outdated appliances, and a broken HVAC system.
“These can be real deal-breakers for potential buyers,” says Breegan Jane, an interior designer and Trane Residential partner. It’s “worth spending a few extra bucks to make sure that the basics are taken care of.”
If you’re budgeting for big-ticket purchases, you can score some major savings by waiting till the right time of year. Most large appliances go on sale at the end of September, with the exception of refrigerators, which are heavily discounted in May after new models hit the market.
3. Refresh the ceiling
Popcorn ceilings were once known as a cost-effective finish, but pretty much everyone now agrees these textured surfaces are tacky. Aesthetics aside, they also tend to collect dust, dirt and cobwebs, and can even become a health concern if the ceiling is cracking and flaking.
It’s important to test for asbestos before taking on this project yourself. Once you’re in the clear, scraping off your home’s popcorn ceiling as a DIY project will cost $1,738 on average, while adding a fresh coat of paint can cost up to $350.
For a small home, removing popcorn ceilings could add about $2,500 to the resale value. It could even help your home sell in the first place if a homebuyer prefers a smooth ceiling and doesn’t want to tackle this type of messy project.
4. Paint the interior and exterior
Painting your home can take some time and effort, but it could potentially add 1% to 3% to a home’s final sale price.
“Painting or wallpapering your space can totally change up the feel of your home,” Jane, who moonlights as a star on HGTV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, says. “The buyer will be more likely to see themselves living there, and it will make your home stick out to them when looking for potential properties.”
DIY homeowners typically spend $2,898 on painting the exterior and $1,794 for the interior. But before you get started, according to a 2018 Zillow report, using the right colors is a key part of getting that ROI:
- A smoky black or charcoal color on your exterior doors can raise your sale price by a whopping $6,271.
- An exterior that’s creamy bright yellow or a flax yellow can outsell other homes by $3,408.
- Warm brown living room walls—think oatmeal or taupe—help homes sell for $2,793 more than expected.
- Periwinkle bathroom walls can boost your resale value by $2,786.
- Sandy-brown dining rooms sell for nearly $1,684 more than plain, white dining rooms.
- “Tuxedo” cabinets—where the upper cabinets are light and the lower cabinets are dark navy or black—can raise your sale price by as much as $1,547.
But keep in mind: “You don’t need to paint every wall in the house to make an improvement,” Jane says. “Sometimes just an accent wall or repainting the ceilings can make a big difference.”
Ready to get started? Here’s all the supplies you’ll need to paint like a pro.
5. Clean and declutter
Cleaning and decluttering your home can add as much as $4,300 to a home’s resale value, according to a 2019 HomeLight report. It can also help you maximize your space and improve your living experience while you’re still in the home.
This project won’t cost too much—the price of good cleaning supplies and maybe some storage bins—but could take a lot of time. Go through your home, make a list of what needs to be cleaned and straightened up, and estimate the time involved. And don’t forget about organizing your garage.
Once you’re ready to dig in, go through your items and put them into one of three categories: keep, sell, or donate. Organize the items you keep, and give the entire home a deep cleaning.
And don’t just stick to the indoors. After testing a bunch of pressure washers, our top pick goes to the Ryobi RY141612, which can get vinyl siding, clogged gutters, concrete, wood, and brick in tip-top shape.
6. Add low-cost landscaping
Making simple changes to your landscaping “can improve curb appeal and the overall design of your home,” Jane says. According to the HomeLight report, simple tasks like cutting the grass, adding mulch and plants, and treating weeds can add $1,000 on its own.
Depending on the size of your home, Jane also suggests creating a space where children can play, or adding some raised garden beds to grow your own food. You can also use planting in creative ways to make your house more appealing—like using plants to conceal your HVAC system or vents on the home’s exterior.
“Watering and upkeep of landscaping can be pricey,” Jane says, “so I suggest doing some research and using plants that are native to your area.” These plants are more likely to thrive in your yard.