By Gene And Katie Hamilton
Many home improvement projects don't require a large financial investment. To get you started, here are 10 simple projects that will add value to your home.
1. Painting the exterior of a house is expensive, but consider painting a new accent color to beautify the shutters, trim and front door. To complete the new look, add new house numbers and doormat.
2. Clean gutters twice a year and repair any holes in downspouts to keep rainwater from damaging a home's siding. Place an inexpensive diverter at the base of the downspouts to direct water flow away from the house to prevent damage to the foundation or basement.
3. A well-landscaped yard can add 5 to 15 percent to a house's selling value, according to a study at Mississippi State University. Find a local nursery with free planning advice and classes to learn the most suitable plants and shrubbery for a particular location. Implement and budget the plan over several years to keep annual costs low.
4. First impressions are lasting, so keep the lawn cut and manicured. Fertilize and mow the lawn regularly and remove debris from the yard. Invest in a $20 edging tool and use it to trim the lawn from invading garden beds. Use a pruning tool to routinely trim bushes and tree branches when needed.
5. A motion-sensing security light in the backyard is a small improvement that makes a big difference. Not only will it add an increased level of security, it's also a nice convenience when returning home in the dark.
6. Interior painting is the most popular do-it-yourself project because it's easy to learn the skills while on the job and the paint and tools are inexpensive. A gallon of paint goes a long way to change a room from ordinary to extraordinary.
7. Add architectural interest to a room with molding made of wood or polyurethane. Take it one step further and install beadboard paneling as wainscoting on walls. These materials, sold at lumberyards and home centers, are designed for do-it-yourselfers.
8. To make the most of your closets and cabinets, give them an overhaul with new shelving and storage components. Find closet design services online by typing "install closet shelving" in a search engine. The do-it-yourself shelving components are sold at home centers, hardware stores and lumber yards.
9. A poorly ventilated bathroom is the breeding ground for mold and mildew and most old light/vent units don't provide enough ventilation to combat the problem. Replace an old unit with a smart motion-sensing one for about $150. The light automatically turns on when someone enters the bathroom and turns off when they leave, and the vent kicks on when the humidity level rises in the room. It decreases the chance for mildew to grow and everyone in the house will appreciate the automatic light during late-night visits.
10. Most homes were built with bare minimum lighting, especially in the kitchen which often has only one overhead ceiling light. Make a kitchen countertop a safer workspace by adding strips of under-cabinet, low-profile fixtures that are concealed in the shallow recess of a wall-hung cabinet. They plug into a wall receptacle and provide plenty of light for food preparation. This is a home improvement you'll appreciate every day.
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