Just as you take your car for a regular tune-up to ensure it continues to run smoothly, your home also needs some special attention. There is a lot more to keeping up a house than cutting the grass and clearing snow from the driveway.
Ensuring your home “looks” good and is in proper working order not only makes it more attractive and comfortable, but it can also increase the market value of the property.
Homeowners who plan to move within a few years are often reluctant to invest time and money on improvement projects that may not pay them back. But unless these improvements are very specialized, any project you choose -from fixing leaky faucets to installing new energy efficient windows -will start to pay you back in energy savings and comfort long before you sell. The wisest improvements you can make to any home are those that keep it running smoothly and bring it up to the standards of other homes in the immediate area. And these needn’t break your budget.
Start with simple repairs that don’t cost a lot and you can do yourself: securing loose tiles, adjusting a door, installing a lock, repairing a leaky faucet or pipes, and so on.
If the decor in your home is bothering you, don’t decide right away to rip everything out. Changing styles in decor and every-day wear and tear can make any home look worn and tired. But all it may take to make your home look more attractive and in better repair are small improvements such as refacing cabinets and counter tops, changing the colour scheme, repainting, paneling, hanging new wall coverings or installing new lighting.
It is a good idea to locate and read your gas, electricity and water meters on a weekly or monthly basis. This will help you gain an understanding of seasonal increases and decreases in consumption and enable you to take measures to become more energy and water efficient. The savings could be substantial.
You should have your furnace inspected and serviced annually to ensure there are no problems. Unless you know a lot about furnaces, this is something you should not do yourself. You can and should, however, change or clean the furnace filter regularly. You should also inspect the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home; you want to be certain these work in the event of a fire or other emergency.
While replacing leaky faucets can drastically improve a bathroom’s appearance and cut down on water usage, sometimes it takes a lot more than that to bring an old bathroom to an acceptable standard.
A bathroom tune up can pay big dividends. The first items to replace should be the fixtures -the sink, faucets, vanity, bathtub, shower and toilet. This is where you will add value and save money by opting for a water-efficient toilet, water-conserving showerhead and faucets, efficient fans and other energy-saving devices.
The floors, walls and accessories are not an essential part of a bathroom tune-up but you can save time and money if you do your overhaul all at once rather than one piece at a time.
Other good major home improvements include replacing old carpets and flooring with new, more durable products; adding a garage or carport if your home does not have one; installing central air conditioning; repairing or adding a fireplace; upgrading your basement space; replacing old windows with new energy-efficient ones; adding terraces, wooden decks and fences that add privacy; and investing in landscaping that adds value and is easy to keep up.
Making your home attractive doesn’t always require major renovations. Changing the colour scheme, repainting, hanging new window coverings and installing new lighting and flooring can help give your home the facelift it needs without breaking your budget.
Improving the “look” of your home not only makes it more attractive and comfortable, but may also increase the market value of your property. If, however, you are hoping to recoup your home improvement costs someday soon, stay away from specialized improvements such as pools, saunas, gyms, greenhouses and dark rooms. These are the types of improvements which -while they may be personally appealing -have little demand and, as a result, little added value.
The wisest improvements in any home are those that bring it up to the standards of other properties in the immediate area. If most properties have garages, central air, home office and fireplaces, these are well-worth adding. Improvements to enhance the exterior of your home -such as fencing, decks, shade trees, shrubs and landscaping -can also add value.
Before you begin your home improvement project, determine your style. It is best to choose colours and decorations and stick to one style. Chances are you won’t be replacing all the furniture and fixtures in your home, so try to work any new colour schemes with the furnishings you have. For continuity and to create spaciousness, maintain the same colour scheme throughout the living areas of the home, varying only the accent colour from room to room. Break away from these rules in your personal spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.
When it comes to home decorating, colour and paint are your best friends. Colours can visually enlarge or reduce the size of a room, and can heighten or lower a ceiling. One of the best ways to update your home is to use paint. Paint can transform dated cupboards and vanities into bright new features in a room. The splashy colours and techniques available can add life to almost anything. You can brighten old floors and even give them a faux tile look using paint and polyurethane. Paint can also do wonders to the exterior of your home.
Do your windows provide a beautiful view? If so, be sure to keep the window coverings light and simple. If privacy is an issue, however, you will want to consider heavier fabric or blinds or blinds that offer privacy while still allowing the light to shine through. There are so many colours and types of window coverings to choose from that you will have little trouble finding something both eye-catching and functional.Lighting can change the mood of a room. Bright lights stimulate activity; dim lights help you relax. Install dimmers for flexible mood lighting. If you want to create a warm atmosphere, use small pools of light instead of general lighting. The exterior of your home will also benefit from spotlights and floodlights that highlight your garden, walls and other features.
A ceiling skylight will dramatically increase the sense of extra space in a room and let in more light than a window the same size. It can transform a dark area into a brightly lit living space. Ventilating skylights can let in air as well. If your budget is too tight to install a skylight, try adding recessed floodlights to a ceiling or track lighting in areas you want to brighten.It’s amazing what homeowners have discovered under the rug. If your home has old wall-to-wall carpeting, take a peek to see if there is hardwood underneath. Wood floors may only need polishing or sanding down and sealing with polyurethane to restore them to their original beauty. Even when they can’t be restored, wood floors can still be rescued with paint.
If you decide on new flooring, consider the wear and tear the room will have. Hard-wear areas like the kitchen and bathrooms benefit from resilient flooring choices such as ceramic and vinyl tiles. You can give any floor extra character by adding inexpensive area rugs, even over wall-to-wall carpeting.Many home improvement stores, paint stores, wallpaper outlets, etc. offer free decorating advice. Take advantage of this service during the planning stages of your make over. Ask for samples of paint colours and fabric and take them home to ponder. Above all, take your time and be sure you choose a colour or fabric you will enjoy for a long time.