7 Home Improvement Projects for $1,000 (or Less)

I saw this article on HouseLogic (Realtors.com) and thought there were some good tips here.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: November 1, 2011

Americans still think buying a home is one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Here are some ways to increase your home’s value and comfort for less than $1,000.

We knew reports of the death of American home ownership were greatly exaggerated (nod to Mark Twain), and now we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

A just-released survey by the Meredith Corp., which publishes Better Homes and Gardens magazine, says the vast majority of people polled believe owning a home is a smart financial move and a source of pride.

Here are some results of the 2,500 people surveyed online:

  • 86% of home owners still feel owning a home is a good investment.
  • 85% feel “owning a home is one of their proudest accomplishments.”
  • 69% of Americans who don’t currently own a home agree with the statement, “No matter what happens in the U.S. housing market, owning a home is still an important goal in my life.”
  • 68% of Americans plan to spend money on their homes in the next six months, with roughly half (49%) expecting to pay up to $1,000.

A thousand bucks may not seem like a lot, but it goes long way toward improving the value and comfort of your home. Here are some projects we recommend:

1. Add a new entry door. Spruce up your curb appeal and save energy by upgrading your exterior door. Steel doors, which can mimic many types of wood, typically run for $400 at big-box stores and offer the strongest barrier against intruders.

2. Get organized. Decluttering and maximizing storage space are inexpensive ways to transform a home. Add space to kids’ rooms by installing platform or bunk beds ($400-$600); neaten piles of shoes with shoe organizers ($20), which can do double duty as catch-all organizers in family room closets and kitchen pantries; extend bookshelves to the ceiling, creating storage in otherwise dead space.

3. Save with a programmable thermostat. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat (less than $500) can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs. The latest models offer remote programming via the Internet.

4. Replace cabinet hardware. If you’ve got traditional knobs and pulls, try contemporary; change from staid to whimsical. Big-box retailers often have huge selections for budget prices. (10-pack for $20).

5. Update bathroom flooring. Give bathrooms a quick facelift by replacing old tile with vinyl flooring or ceramic tile, which can cost as little as $3 per square foot for material and installation.

6. Create luxury with a shower panel. Turn you bathroom into a spa with a  programmable shower panel with adjustable spray jets, fog-free mirror, and multifunctional shower head. Most systems easily attach to existing plumbing. Panels typically sell for $360.

7. Turn a mudroom into a garden room. Bring nature inside by recasting your drab mudroom into a flower-filled garden room. (If you already have a utility sink, you’re halfway there. If not, it will cost you $200 to $350 to tap into existing, nearby plumbing, and $80 for a plastic tub.) Repurpose an old wood table into a potting bench. And hang your basket collection from J-hooks attached to a forged iron curtain rod ($100).

What improvements have you made recently under $1,000? What are you planning to do in the next six months?




So, you think you are finally ready to buy a home.  You have heard so much about the great deals out there and you have waited to see where things are going to go.  Now you have decided to jump in.  Before you do, there are some important things you need to know.

ALWAYS check with a mortgage professional before even calling a real estate agent.    Why?  Because you really should know what you qualify for.  Maybe you will find you have to fix a couple of things on your credit report (often there are entries that aren’t even yours!).  You should get pre-qualified up to a certain dollar figure so you know what you can pay for a home if you choose to.  It can be very disheartening for buyers to find a home they love only to discover they cannot affort it.  This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t comfortable with a payment as high as you qualify for that you can’t stay within your comfort zone.

KNOW what you qualify for.  It is important to know what type of loan you qualify for or what you choose to go with.  If it is an FHA loan, this will have an impact on the type (condition) of home you can buy.  I frequently have people tell me that they are willing to do “some work.”  Usually that equates to paint, carpet, minor repairs, etc.  Most buyer’s don’t want to have mold removed by a certified mold specialist, or replace concrete, roofs, garages, flooring in the home – you name it, I have seen it.  Even if you are willing to do this work, an FHA loan will not allow it because the home has to pass certain guidelines BEFORE you close.  A conventional loan allows a little more leeway, but not a lot.  Homes that need this much work are generally properties that investors buy.

BE REALISTIC.  Remember those “great deals” you heard about?  They are no more.  In fact, as time marches on it is becoming more and more of a seller’s market.  That does not mean that you will be paying too much for a home.  The home prices are still far lower they were before the recession.  And interest rates are still fantastic, although they are starting to creep up.  So, what your friend, family member, co-worker, etc. paid for their house in 2010-2012 will very likely be much less than what you will pay now.  And those homes that look like a good deal/price, well…see above.

FLEXIBILITY is key.  Be flexible on the type of home you will consider.  You will find a much better deal on a townhome/twin home now because there are many more on the market than single family homes.  The inventory is very low for single family homes currently, which drives the price up and the good ones go fast!  There are many different types of twin homes/townhomes, some with more privacy than others.  Always something to consider.

PRICING can vary in different cities/towns.  The more you will consider the better odds you will have finding what you want in the price range you want.  Many of my clients started out saying they had to live in this one town, or maybe 2.  Think ahead about why you are choosing the areas that you are, and if there might be some possibility that you could live in a neighboring community.

ASK  your real estate professional for help in these areas.  They are on the ground out there, and they are very knowledgeable.  I never mind answering questions, explaining, and/or helping someone decide what will or will not work for them.  Maybe it is not the time for them to buy – and that’s okay!  But ask the questions – your real estate professional is a wealth of information and can navigate this very difficult process for you.  And best of all, the commission is paid by the seller so you don’t have to pay a dime!

Call me, any time, for more information!


Laura Hadden

Prudential Lovejoy Realty

(952) 303-1842