Frugal Home Improvement Ideas For Spring
While it may be nice to completely overhaul your garage or add a deck, some big ticket items don't provide much in the way of future returns.
As the U.S. housing market has continued to improve over the last few years, homeowners have become more willing to spend big on renovations. According to a study from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Americans were expected to spend around $325 billion on home remodeling projects in 2015. Homeowners haven't been brave enough to spend this much since 2007. Still, not all home improvements were created equal. While it may be nice to completely overhaul your garage or add a deck, some big ticket items don't provide much in the way of future returns. If you're in the mood to improve this spring without going over budget, there are plenty of options that are not only cheap, but also add significant value to your home.
Paving the driveway
Your driveway often doesn't get the respect and attention it deserves, despite taking up quite a bit of real estate and contributing significantly to curb appeal. So it seems like an obvious, practical investment to get a do-over on the driveway. LearnVest spoke to its sources in residential construction , and the consensus was "not so fast." Even if the driveway may look a little worse for wear, Harrison Wilson of L&H Construction in Boston noted that it's what's below the surface that matters the most.
"The foundation of a driveway is just as important, if not more, than the topcoat," Wilson said. "Heavy equipment is needed to dig down and remove any soft material, set the correct amount of base material, grade it correctly for water runoff, and pack it. Once a solid base is installed, then the asphalt is laid."
These considerations, and the fact that this is far from a project you can do yourself, make a driveway improvement very expensive. Wilson estimated asphalt could cost up to $7 per square foot, and concrete up to $15. That doesn't even take into account the rest of the materials and labor.
Of course, there is an easier, much cheaper alternative. Wilson recommended looking into sealcoat. This material can fill in small gaps in the pavement and leave the surface coating looking almost new. For less than $500, this may be the smartest alternative to a full driveway makeover.
"Some home improvements will deliver a major return on investment."
Planting some new foliage or doing more than basic lawn upkeep is a classic springtime activity. Once things start blooming, it's only natural to want to add some fresh flowers, bring new life to a patio or any other number of changes to a home's outdoor space. As simple as these projects may sound, however, they can add up quickly. LearnVest noted with plants running between $5 and $15 each, along with the cost of mulch, shrubs and other accessory items, a couple of nice flower beds could add up to over $500 or more. Getting a professional landscaping project done could mean spending 10 times that amount easily. No matter how good the end result looks, getting an instant backyard overhaul isn't always worth it.
Instead, take the slow and steady approach to landscaping. As long as you're not planning on selling soon, there's no use in investing heavily in anything that won't immediately impact the home's value. Start small by planting your own seeds and doing what landscaping you can manage. There are now many resources on the Internet that can be useful to budding gardeners, many of which will eliminate the need for a professional.
If you're undertaking a major home remodeling project, make sure you hang onto all records of the work that was done and how much it cost, and keep it safe until you plan to sell the home. According to The New York Times, homeowners living in areas undergoing rapid real estate growth could be subject to a large tax bill unless they can prove some of this value came from renovations. The IRS currently allows homes to gain up to $500,000 in value (for a married couple) before any additional amount is counted as capital gains tax. However, the cost of improvements made over the years can be subtracted from that total, which could end up saving some homeowners upwards of six figures come tax season.
For more ideas on how you might be able to save money, talk with the banking professional here at Vectra Bank.