When investing in your property, being able to budget and then prioritize is paramount. One way to do this is by thinking of your property and the home improvement projects you undertake to transform it as investments, in turn thinking about the best kind of return you’ll likely get.
To help you focus on the ongoing quest to turn your space into the home of your dreams, writer Micah Moon is here to kickstart your thinking on five projects worth putting time, effort, and money into.
Being a homeowner has always had its rewards and challenges. And often the challenges are exactly the experiences that lead to the rewards. For example, extensive home improvement projects can often quickly become more time consuming, more complicated and more costly than originally planned.
However, in most cases, the benefits of the finished home project far outweigh the costs to your interrupted life, and your wallet. Here are five home improvement projects that didn’t seem all that transformative at the time, but in the end, paid off big time in my home.
1. Refinished hardwood floors
Refinishing hardwood floors yourself is a very time consuming process. In our case it meant we had to remove all furniture from our house and basically move out for a week. Then we began the process of removing carpet, renting sanding equipment and buying the stain and tools needed to begin the tedious task of sanding and staining. However, by doing it ourselves we saved over a thousand dollars in labor costs.
However, if we would’ve hired a professional, we wouldn’t have had to take a week’s worth of time off each to complete the project. And all we would have had to do was call some relatives and find a place to stay for a week. Either way you choose to refinish hardwood floors, we now know how big of a difference it has made in our home.
Everyone who walks into our house compliments us on the uniform finish of our hardwood floors. And, better yet, our homeowner’s insurance even went down by $10 a month because carpeting is more of a flammable fire hazard than our new wood flooring. That’s a $120 savings per year!
2. Converted fireplace
Because we still have the original gravity furnace that came with our 1950’s home, we knew we had to do something to save money on our gas bill. So we decided to convert our fireplace from a wood burning to a ventless gas fireplace. While this wasn’t as costly, or invasive as refinishing the floors, the benefits were just as noticeable, especially on our wallet.
In order to have our fireplace converted, we first had a professional come out and clean and inspect our chimney and flue for safety. Then we hired a heating contractor to come install a gas line to our fireplace. After that we purchased a 100 percent efficient fire place insert and since the installation, have saved at least $50 a month during cold winters on our heating bill. We now can turn down the thermostat and heat our home by simply turning on our fireplace when we get chilly.
3. Waterproofed basement
Before we waterproofed our basement it was a damp and dingy place that we didn’t even like to do laundry. Previously, we had to constantly run a dehumidifier in order to keep the mold and mildew from growing, especially during the spring and fall when rain and flooding is a constant threat.
But after hiring a local company to seal and waterproof our foundation and basement – from the inside and out – we now have dry, useable space for not only laundry, but also for storage that we never had before. And because of this home improvement project, we’ve also saved at least $20 on our monthly electric bill since we no longer need to run a dehumidifier throughout the year.
4. Tree removal
When we moved into our house, there was a huge maple tree that took up the majority of our backyard. After living with it for a few years, we decided to have it cut down because some of the branches hung over our power lines, driveway and roof. We were scared that one large rain or snowstorm would cause branches to fall and cause damage to one of our cars or our roof.
It cost a couple thousand dollars to hire a tree cutting company to come with a crane and wood chipper to cut it down, but now we enjoy more sunlight and no more roots threatening our home’s foundation. We also now love our backyard that seems much larger and brighter with more room to relax, entertain and enjoy. [ed: make sure you’re in compliance with local codes and have the proper permits before removing trees from your property].
5. Roof replacement
Spending money on a new roof is never an exciting, or cheap, home project to undertake. The look of the new roof not only looks great, but also we’ve found that it has kept our house more insulated, which results in a warmer house in the winter. And we have seen that is one more way we can keep our heating bill down, as we now save approximately $25 a month on our gas bill.
Using the equity in your home to pay for home improvement
For all of these home improvement projects, we used the equity we’d built in our home to pay for the projects. At the time none of these projects felt all that transformative, now we know that sometimes it’s the project you think no one will even notice that will become the statement piece of your home and the biggest money saver.
Micah Moon is a writer for one of the top 10 interactive agencies in the U.S. Moon has a degree in English/Creative Writing and is passionate about writing pieces on home improvement projects and money-saving ideas for homeowners. Originally from the Midwest, she has also lived abroad in London, England, as well as Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa.