We consider our homes deeply personal; and in a lot of ways, that is true. Our homes are where we go to relax after a long day’s work. We put a lot of personal time, effort, and money into them. For some people, the first home they buy is meant to be a home that they’ll own for the rest of their lives. But for the majority of us, this just isn’t true. Most of us will own more than one home in our lifetimes, just as we will own more than one car. For this reason, among others, a home should be considered, at least on some level, an investment. What sets a home apart from a car — aside from cost — is the fact that a home is much more personalized, which can either help or harm its chances of success on the market. Now — you can’t make every alteration in your home with a future sale in mind, especially when you aren’t sure if you will sell your home down the road. However, you do want to put some consideration into your renovations, setting your eye to the future even if you’re only tackling DIY home improvements (like updating carpets and rugs).
Of course, the idea of a DIY home improvement is very different from what it once was. People are no longer intimidated by the idea of handling their own home renovations. This is in part because more and more people are buying “project homes” — that is to say, homes that require a good amount of remodeling. You could end up investing a relatively small amount of money in a home, making smart DIY home improvements, and making a profit once you put it up on the market. With that being said, it’s not enough to simply start a home remodel project and expect it to be a hit with potential buyers. This is the trap that all too many would-be house “flippers” have fallen into. You need to be smart and strategic about the types of renovations you choose to do. For example — is a basement remodel worth your money if you turn it into your dream movie theater, when most people in your area are looking for an extra level for their families? Should we carpet the home theater, or go with hard wood flooring? What makes a good remodel for you won’t necessarily appeal to potential buyers. That doesn’t always have to matter; but if you’re looking at your home as an investment, you should consider what you can for the least amount of money, with the most potential return. So — let’s find out which renovations can offer that return, and which ones can be accomplished as DIY home improvements.
Make Your House Smarter
Everyone is jumping onto the smart house craze — even some of the older homes on the market are currently being updated to function as smart houses. There are currently a number of different smart house systems on the market. Google Home and the Amazon Dot Echo allow people to speak commands into actions, with extensive systems that allow homeowners to more easily take advantage of their home’s full functions. These speakers aren’t all that difficult to install either, meaning that they fall under some of the easier types of DIY home improvements. Of course, you’ll want to take your own individual speaker with you when you leave, but having a home that can be outfitted with smart systems easily is important to a lot of younger home buyers. Once you have a smart home, you’ll understand why.
Another convenience that many like to see on the market is the smart window. Dimmable windows are essentially controlled by a simple button, and made of electrochromic glass, also known as smart glass. This type of glass can be easily darkened or lightened. The advantage of these types of windows isn’t merely aesthetic. Being able to control the light sensitivity of your windows means that you’ll ultimately be able to save energy and therefore money. Buyers will see their own return on investing in a home with smart capabilities — and you’ll be able to command a higher price for them in turn. With that being said, another major advantage of the smart home capacity is simply the ease of it. The idea of controlling your thermostat through an app on your phone is appealing; as is the concept of a camera at your doorbell that alerts people to the presence of any nearby potential intruders. Many of these capabilities are only now being added to existing homes, which means that your house can get an edge over the competition, should it ever be on the market.
Even if you aren’t quite sure about additions that are simply meant to make life easier — and maybe a bit more fun — you should consider making your home as technologically equipped as possible. This can also extend to having your home outfitted with a proper security system, or perhaps an advanced fire alarm system. Installing cameras and alarms in your home could equate to a real uptick in value. This is especially relevant if you live in an area that is known for security risks; having a system in place already, rather than having to worry about installing one themselves, will cause a lot of potential buyers to breathe a sigh of relief, and make the final decision in your home’s favor. If nothing else — remember that we’re living in an increasingly tech savvy world, and your home should follow suit.
Accessibility For Everyone
If you have disabilities or live with someone who has disabilities, you’ve probably had to make a number of DIY home improvements over the years, just to ensure that life is a little simpler. Imagine if you hadn’t been faced with the need for DIY home improvements as soon as you moved in. Imagine if you already had a house that function with a handicap accessible design, or at the very least a design that is easier for the disabled to work with. For example, some rugs and carpets are hard to navigate with a wheelchair.
Now, making your home accessible to those with disabilities is a personal decision, and certainly some additions may be too specific for the general home market. For that matter, not all people with disabilities need the same types of improvements made — which means that you could be making a home less accessible for certain people. However, there shouldn’t be any harm in replacing, for example, your porch steps with a ramp. If light switches are placed in more accessible locations, and doorways expanded, it could make a world of difference to someone in a wheelchair. As the oldest generation in the country grows and more people retire — many of which will have disabilities — it’s important to keep everyone in mind when renovating. The more people you appeal to, the more likely you will be to sell your home and make a profit. If you can make your home more handicap accessible through some DIY home improvements, why wouldn’t you?
The Kitchen Remains Key
If you really wish to pad your savings account when you sell your home, you may want to focus on the kitchen. As much of a cliche as it may initially seem, the kitchen remains one of the most popular rooms for homeowners to remodel, along with bathrooms. You can easily make your kitchen much more attractive through some relatively simple DIY home improvements; switching out your blah countertops for bright colors, or adding in an attractive backsplash, is something that you can do yourself, and it could pay off in a big way. You may also want to consider adding in improvements like a gourmet oven and stove, or even a pizza oven.
Of course, as much as you may want to create the kitchen of your dreams, you have to ask yourself — are the renovations you’re choosing simply for yourself? Or are they made with an investment in mind? As tempting as it may be to make your DIY home improvements all about what you want, when it comes down to it, the more universal your renovations, the more likely you will be to sell your home at a profit. Maybe you love the idea of laying down a brightly colored tile floor. Avoid obvious mistakes such as putting rugs or carpet in your kitchen (not a great idea due to clean-up). However, as much as you love the idea of a turquoise floor, a potential buyer may see it as something that takes away from the home’s value. The fact is that once you sell a home, it’s out of your hands. If the new owners don’t like an improvement you made, they’ll get rid of it anyway. Why not take the future marketability of your renovations into question, even if you’re working on something as seemingly personal as your kitchen?
Don’t Forget The Great Outdoors
If you have a decent amount of backyard space, you may want to take advantage of it and expand your home’s living area. This doesn’t mean that you need to necessarily add more indoor space. Rather, you may want to add in a patio, or even a deck. Yes, these can fall under DIY home improvements — especially when it comes to a patio. You would be surprised by what you can do with some concrete and a solid plan in mind. In this day and age, people feel confined by the indoors. They want to be able to relax outside, and take full advantage of their yard. Having a patio at which they can drink a glass of lemonade and watch their kids play can be a dealbreaker — for a lot of people, the final decision on whether or not they should buy is based on one particular addition.
One addition that isn’t necessarily a DIY home improvement — but always worth considering — is, of course, a pool. The appeal of a pool is largely based on where you’re living. For some people, especially those on the east coast, the weather gets hot enough to make it more than worth it. But if you find the seasons cooling down more quickly where you live, it may not be worth the investment. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add in another water-based attraction. A hot tub may seem cheesy to some, but for others it’s easier to maintain than a pool, with a broader appeal throughout the year. It’s certainly memorable, which is half the battle when you’re putting a home on the market. No matter what the renovation or improvement you’re making, try to look at it from that perspective — will it make the home more memorable while maintaining its marketability? If so, you may want to move forward with the renovation.
At the end of the day, your home is your home, and you shouldn’t make your every improvement based on what potential buyers may want. However, if you’re smart about your renovations, and invest in improvements that will increase your home’s market appeal, you’ll see a return. Do your research before making any kind of improvement or addition — and don’t be too broad. Ask realtors and other homeowners about your market; know what kind of people are buying your type of home. Don’t let those people rule your life, but do think about them before pulling the trigger on a remodel. It might be a little bittersweet to let go of your home once you’ve made it into your dream space. But you’ll certainly feel better about it once you’ve made a profit!
Author: Caroline Sibley
Caroline is a freelance content creator and creative writer. VCUArts alum with a focus on the arts, travel, and culture.