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Five Spring Renovation Projects and How to Save Money - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

I know it’s a little early to ask you to start thinking about spring but now is the perfect time to look ahead as the weather becomes warmer. Whether you’re planning indoor or outdoor renovation projects, the season change is the perfect time to tackle new improvements.

I took an informal poll of my friends to take their pulse on which spring projects were in the pipeline. I was surprised about the wide variety of responses I received. Read on to find out what I’m planning, as well as my friends:

Kitchen Upgrades

In 2013, my husband and I purchased a 10-year-old foreclosed home. The minute we walked through it, we knew that the kitchen would need the most attention. We are planning to tackle it probably mid-April. Unfortunately, the sink was improperly installed, it leaks and the previous owner used the wrong tools to cut and size the granite countertops. I could go on about my kitchen woes, but you get the picture. In addition, we need more storage and we would love to add a pantry and island.

Between then and now, we’ve been discussing layout ideas and saving money for such a big undertaking. We’ve also had three contractors estimate how much kitchen renovations will run us. We want to replace the cabinets, upgrade our appliances, install new lighting and add a backsplash. We’re looking at costs between $12,000 and $17,000, depending on whether we install new flooring, too.

Tips to Save Money: After talking to some experienced contractors, buying ready-to-assemble cabinets over custom cabinets will save us up to $1,500 per cabinet. Although granite is a popular countertop choice, it typically costs between $50 and $100 per square foot. Considering recyclable products like stone and concrete, or even laminate, saves money because these materials cost between $8 and $20 per square foot.

There’s no way around the hefty costs to upgrade appliances, but you can make some of that money back by choosing high-efficiency machines. Purchasing Energy Star Efficient appliances can save anywhere from $200 to $1,100 over an appliance’s lifetime.

Replace Front Door and Foyer Improvements

Vreena R. says her home is overdue for a new front door and the foyer needs to be spruced up.

“Our front door is looking older and has an outdated door knocker that the previous owners purchased,” said the Redford, Mich. resident. “I would love a natural colored wooden door that looks more modern.”

Vreena, who wants to boost the resale value of her home, is also hoping to repaint her foyer, add a few contemporary decorations and repair the walls to go along with the new door.

“I hope to spend no more than $500 for a new door, but I still need to do my homework. We also want to buy a new storm door, too,” she said. “My husband and I hope these updates make our home look a little more modern. I can’t stand the old-style door knocker.”

Next up, Vreena said her plan to estimate how much it will cost to reroof their home. They have owned the home since 2009.

Tips to Save Money: If you’re looking at replacing your front door, you have a smorgasbord of options in terms of types and sizes. The price range is very broad for front entry doors, depending on the material from which they’re made, as well as how much customization is needed. It may be safe to budget between $400 and $1,200 for a replacement. One easy way to save money and energy is to ensure your new door’s weather stripping seals tightly and that the threshold interlocks with the door’s bottom edge.

Fiberglass doors are the most popular because they can achieve the look of wood, but they’re more durable. Fiberglass doors also typically come with a lifetime warranty. Steel doors tend to be cheaper than wood and fiberglass.

Landscape Your Home

Krystal B. and her fiancé, Kirk, are getting married later this year. They want to landscape the front and back yard of their home, but they want to do it without breaking the bank!

“With my busy schedule, I don’t want landscaping that needs a lot of work and maintenance. Plus I have bad allergies which make it hard to work in the yard for long periods of time,” she said. “The people who lived in our home before had a lot of deep-rooted plants, trees and shrubs. But we pulled them up because of all of the roots.”

Krystal said they are looking for some shrubs and trees that have a clean and beautiful look yet are still cost-effective.

“I like the style of the Dwarf Weeping Cherry Tree, and I think a big rock out front would look nice, too,” she said. “We’re hoping to tackle our front yard when it warms up and then move to the back yard later, maybe by the end of the summer.”

Tips to Save Money: According to Porch.com, planning ahead is key to saving money when you’re preparing to landscape your home. Think about how many trees, plants and flowers you may want based on the size of your yard and begin doing some pricing. It will be helpful to have a budget estimate even before talking to landscapers.

Plan to landscape your home in phases so you can budget such a large undertaking and you can tackle the project in the order of importance. Not everyone has the financial resources to landscape their property all at once. Paying as you go may help you to save on loan or credit costs, and enable you to evaluate your progress along the way.

Catalogs and landscaping web sites expand your choices, especially for rare plants and specialized products. Shopping online may save money over shopping in traditional big box stores, but remember to include shipping costs when price comparing. Check alternate resources such as arboretums and botanical centers for resources, too. Also, some cities offer free mulch and compost, and construction and demolition sites may be sources of stone or bricks.

Upgrade Gutter System

Jeff K. says that he and his wife, Marilyn, have to upgrade their home’s gutter system and clean them out when the weather warms up. They are still shopping around for a contractor to take on the project.

“We wanted to get rid of the old white aluminum gutters and replace them with cool copper piping,” he said. “We also need to install new downspouts so that the water runoff flows farther away from our house.”

He said that the current system pools water near the foundation of their home, which could cause problems in their basement in heavy rainfall.

“My wife and I were looking for a unique way to make our house stand out a bit in our neighborhood. Copper eavestroughs were just the ticket! They added style, curb appeal and a certain elegance to our home. We’re so happy we installed them!”

Tips to Save Money: Clearing leaves and twigs from your gutter system at least twice a year is a must for good home safety. Clogged and dated gutter systems can lead to leaks, cracks in your home foundation, rotted wood and roof repairs. If you live in a dry climate, excess dry debris can easily catch fire. Cleaning your gutters of dry debris ensures that your house is safer from the risk of fire and infestation. Gutter cleaning typically costs between $150 and $500 annually but can save you thousands in damage.

Erect a Fence

In the spring, Rhiannon D. wants to prioritize building a privacy fence around the home she and her husband purchased last year.

“My husband Alex and I live in a neighborhood where the houses are really close together so we wanted a fence for privacy and the convenience of being able to let the dogs out without a leash,” she said. “One of our dogs is very large, and even though he’s a sweetie, sometimes neighborhood kids get scared, and a fence helps us avoid that.”

Although the couple talked to professional contractors, they’ve decided that it’s a project feasible for Alex and his dad to handle. The fence will wrap around their backyard and the whole project will cost around $900.

“A wooden fence an easier alternative for a do-it-yourself project, since we can design it, cut the wood and build it with the tools we currently have,” Rhiannon said. “Building a wooden fence ourselves also gave us the added benefit of being able to build it as sturdy as we want it. The pre-fab fence sections you can buy which are usually made from thinner pieces.”

They anticipate that the hardest part of the project will be digging fence post holes around the perimeter of the yard, she said. But Rhiannon’s grateful that there’s already a metal fence posts in place from an old fence along one side of their house.

“One note of caution I hear is to avoid building your fence in the spring if you live in a rainy climate. The fence posts can shift in the damp soil,” she warned.

Tips to Save Money: Wooden fences may require occasional staining or sealing and can warp and rot over time. Consider a low-maintenance material, such as vinyl, that offers the look of wood without the elbow grease. Other material options include aluminum, steel, wrought iron and bamboo.

If cost is a concern, mix different types of fences. Wooden picket fencing could be placed at the front of the home, for example, connecting to chain-link fencing in the back. Not only will this combination fence potentially save installation costs, but it also will reduce the amount of fence that might require repainting.

Finish Outdoor Patio

Kim L. and her husband have wanted to upgrade their patio area for five years and this spring they will finally tackle it.

“The safety of our old wood deck wasn’t good,” she explained. “In addition to asking friends and family for referrals, we’ve spent a decent amount of time researching this project. I did some online research on cement patios and even talked to a couple of experts at Home Depot.”

Kim’s patio project requires a demolition job of her deck and hauling away the debris. The couple also wants their new patio to be about 20 feet by 20 feet in size. She estimates that the project will cost between $4,500 and $10,300.

“It was really valuable to talk to a few people who’ve had a patio put in,” she said. “My best advice to other homeowners would be to start searching early, do your homework on contractors, ask a lot of questions and obtain a solid quote.”

Tips to Save Money: You can save a lot of money by coordinating a patio design that incorporates your existing elements. Assess your space and decide whether a round or square patio would better suit your yard.

And remember that the extras and upgrades are what makes a patio project pricy. Extras include a fire pit or fireplace, an outdoor kitchen or bar, a pergola and water features like fountains.

Well, there you have it. Not only have we grown a little closer to my friends but you also have some practical tips on how to save money on spring home improvement projects.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. First off, when upgrading your kitchen keep in mind that bigger is not necessary better as far as ROI. Mid-range kitchen upgrades fair much better than over the top overhauls.

    Generally speaking, the condition of the kitchen has a major impact on a home’s resale value, so investing in elements that garner the most visual attention can really pay off down the road. As a general rule of thumb, the more visible a particular element is, the more consideration it should get as a potential splurge item.

    Things like countertops and cabinets are often the first thing people see when they enter your kitchen and so those elements deserve extra attention. If your cabinets are still in good working order and the layout works well, you can restore, repaint or replace doors. Resurfacing your old cabinets can save a lot of money while still dramatically changing the look of your kitchen. And if you have an island, choose a statement surface like granite with a beautiful pattern, while installing laminate everywhere else.

    1. Excellent points Doug. I’ve definitely heard that about resurfacing cabinets. These are good tips to keep costs down when trying to add value to your home. Thanks!

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