Americans spent a combined total of more than $326 billion on remodeling and home improvements in 2015 as of October, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.
If you’re looking to add value to your home without spending a fortune, you might be considering a few do-it-yourself projects. But not all DIY jobs pay off — in some cases, you might find yourself doing a lot of work and spending more than you would have to just hire a professional in the first place.
Still, there are a few renovations you can tackle yourself for significantly less than it would cost for a professional. So, get out your elbow grease and try to do these DIY home projects yourself:
1. Instead of replacing your windows, fix them.
Estimated cost to DIY: About $10
How much it costs for a professional: Anywhere from approximately $1,000 to $20,000, depending on the number of windows
Think all the windows, doors and drawers in your house need replacing? Instead of forking over thousands of dollars, try improving the efficiency of the existing windows for far less time and money.
A little insulation goes a long way, said Max Robinson of KB Home Specialists in Glasgow, Scotland. He suggests buying strips of self-stick rubber weather sealing — available at most hardware stores — then cutting the rubber into strips to fit the dimensions of your windows. Stick them along the frame and, in doing so, you’ll close any gaps that could be letting air in and increasing your utility bills.
“You’ll hardly notice the difference to [the look of] your window, as they’re very discreet and barely visible,” said Robinson.
The strips will cost less than $10 — and take less than 10 minutes to put on each window.
2. Create a home office.
Estimated cost to DIY: Less than $100 for supplies at The Container Store
How much it costs for a professional: As much as thousands of dollars, but it depends on the size of the room
If you want the bonus of a home office without having to give up an entire bedroom or den, consider converting an extra closet into a tiny but efficient home office space. All you’ll have to do is take the hinges off the doors, remove any hanging rods or built-in cubbies and hang a few shelves.
Although you might be able to find some cheaper shelves, you’ll get great quality and be able to add matching shelves in the future if you go with the Elfa collection from The Container Store. You’ll need a deeper shelf to use as a desktop — hang this one lower down so a chair comfortably fits under it. Then, hang a couple shallower shelves above to store books, binders and other necessary office supplies.
Obviously, you’ll need brackets for all three shelves. And if you don’t already have a chair to use in the office, that will add slightly to the cost. Still, it’s cheaper to do it yourself than to hire a professional, who would charge not only for supplies but for labor as well.
3. Add new siding to the outside of your home.
Estimated cost to DIY: Starts at 93 cents per square foot for vinyl siding from BuildDirect.com
How much it costs for a professional: About $5,000 to $12,000, depending on the size of the job and the type of siding.
Last year, the NAR e-mailed an exterior remodeling project survey to 75,789 members and included the median cost of each professional remodeling project. According to the survey, Realtors believe that new roofing, new vinyl windows, new garage doors and new vinyl siding topped the list of projects that appeal to homebuyers. Although the cost estimate for new vinyl siding is $12,000, the project could increase your home’s value — the percent of value recovered from adding new vinyl siding is 83 percent. So, when it comes time to sell your home, you could nab a higher price.
But why pay a professional when you could get the job done yourself?
You’ll need to buy the vinyl siding, of course, and a few special tools available at any home improvement store. But once you have the materials — and possibly a handy friend to help hold the ladder and lay the siding — putting up your own vinyl siding doesn’t require any special skills.
4. Replace a floor with new vinyl tiles.
Estimated cost to DIY: As little as 40-50 cents each at Home Depot
How much it costs for a professional: Anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000, depending on the size of the job and type of flooring
When you think vinyl flooring, you might picture ugly bathroom floors in homes with dated décor. But vinyl isn’t what it used to be. Instead, you can buy high-quality vinyl tiles that look like wood or stone.
With minimal effort — and a minimal budget — a homeowner can replace outdated, damaged or generally hideous flooring by laying down these tiles, which are available in a peel-and-stick format to make the job easy enough even for a non-professional. Available for as little as a few cents each, this is a do-it-yourself job that could transform a space for relatively little money.
The best part: It’s removable. If you like to change the look of your house every couple years, you can remove one vinyl flooring pattern and stick on another for only a bit of time and the cost of materials.
But if you love the look of your old wooden floors and don’t want to replace the floor with vinyl, you might benefit from an even cheaper solution: corn starch. Robinson suggests sprinkling corn starch — available for less than $10 at many grocery stores — in between the floorboards to make them less squeaky.
5. Plant a tree windscreen to protect your home’s exterior.
Estimated cost to DIY: Depending on the type of tree, anywhere from about $40 to $100 per tree from a number of online sellers
How much it costs for a professional: Anywhere from around $100 to $300 per tree planted in addition to the cost of the trees, according to ProReferral.com.
Though you might enjoy your neighbors’ company, some privacy is always nice. To add value to your property, consider planting a tree windscreen. This will not only protect your home’s exterior, but also shield you from too much company.
Be sure to leave enough room for the trees to grow without growing too much into each other. The exact distance between the trees will depend on the type you choose. In general, evergreens work best for this purpose, especially since they likely won’t become barren in winter like other trees.
You can buy the trees from a local arborist, a tree nursery or online. If you plant the trees yourself rather than hiring a professional, you’ll likely save hundreds of dollars on the project.
6. Build an outdoor space, patio or deck.
Estimated cost to DIY: As little as a few cents per paving stone — or $29.99 for a 10-pack of pre-cut interlocking patio tiles from online retailers, though cost can vary depending on material used
How much it costs for a professional: From about $2,000 all the way up to $20,000, depending on the space
Who doesn’t love to settle down for some quiet time in the great outdoors while staying nice and close to home? Outdoor spaces can expand your total living space without breaking the bank.
Instead of paying someone to build a fancy deck or balcony, consider the much cheaper, much more DIY-friendly option of building a patio. Patios serve the same purpose as a deck without requiring the same craftsmanship skills to build. Made of stone or concrete — or even wood panels — laid on the ground, all it takes to create a patio for grilling, chilling and partying is a few paver stones or a few sets of interlocking patio tiles and an afternoon.
Keep Reading: 33 Expensive Services You Should DIY