Maintenance and Home Improvements That Don’t Cost an Arm and a Leg

Keeping your house looking great is important — whether you’re considering your home’s resale value or simply want to make the most of your living space. What are some cost-effective home improvements that can deliver on both counts, especially for the budget-conscious homeowner?

Real estate and service professionals will tell you that some of the best home improvements are fairly inexpensive and simple to execute. They go on to say that extensive and expensive projects such as building a master suite, adding a sunroom or upgrading a bathroom often get less of a return (and can cause more headaches) than projects that just about anyone can do.

Let’s start with maintenance. Regular maintenance can go a long way to extending the life of high-ticket items such as your HVAC and your roof. For HVAC units, change your air filter monthly and check to make sure that your system is draining properly, especially as we near the end of the summer and transition into the cooler months. Extend the life of your roof by keeping tree limbs trimmed back, inspecting the roof to make sure there are no entry points for animals who can wreak havoc in your attic, cleaning gutters, and making sure that attic vents are clear of debris to enable proper airflow.

For fairly minor projects that will bring a smile to your face without hurting your bank account, both contractors and do-it-yourselfers offer an array of suggestions. Make a big splash in the bathroom or kitchen by simply updating your plumbing fixtures; new faucets, sinks and toilets can transform a dated bathroom. When combined with new appliances (especially Energy Star certified models, which reduce water and electric costs), new fixtures can have a big impact. Another highly recommended project is cabinet renovation. If you aren’t looking for a full replacement jobs, great results can be achieved simply from removing and refinishing or painting doors and installing new pulls and knobs.

You can also make a big difference with some buckets of paint. Whether you’re updating dated or faded colors on your interior walls, touching up trim, or painting the whole exterior, you will be surprised at how much impact new paint can have — and for far less hassle and cost than an extensive remodel.

Finally, don’t forget curb appeal. The heat of the summer can keep even the most avid of gardeners indoors, but don’t underestimate the impact of a well-tended lawn and garden. Take advantage of the cooler temps by spending some time beautifying your outdoor living space.

Of course, any home improvement is worth the effort and cost if it increases your enjoyment of your home, and it never hurts to upgrade items such as flooring or windows. Still, remember that even some of the most useful and cost-effective projects don’t require a professional.

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