Mortgage California Blog

Remodeling Returns – Little Things Mean a Lot

February 2nd, 2017

Little things mean a lot: modest home upgrades can make you (and potential buyers) feel better about your living space

Scrubbing your kitchen cabinets made them look great, but now the walls are crying out for fresh paint - and your daughter just plugged in her phone charger and blew out the outlet. Frustrated, you finally start making that list of all of the little things that have been bothering you or that you knew needed fixing/upgrading. Keeping up a house takes time, effort and money, but it also makes it a more enjoyable place to live (and, in the case of replacing that outlet, safer).

Of course, making a home more "liveable" often has the added bonus of making it more "sellable." You've probably heard it before: do work on your house because you want to, not because you hope to get anything out of it. The reality is that there are some things that you can do, again, that will provide you with both benefits.

The most important advice of all: unless you are legitimately handy, hiring professionals to do your work will ensure that it is done correctly and, more often than not, in less time (and fewer mistakes) than doing it yourself. Let's consider the basics.

A new coat (or coats) of paint on a home's exterior and/or interior can add a fresh, colorful breath of life. If you are painting for "yourself," there are a number of phone apps that can help you select the right color by giving you the base, accent and trim colors you want for your project - and don't discount the value of "old school" paint chip cards. And while some stores may charge you for the paint, it's always a smart choice to put a live sample on an inconspicuous spot to ensure that "what you see is what you paint." If you are selling your home, stick with light, neutral tones that provide rooms with a cleaner, more open feel, and allow buyers to better picture how they want to personalize the colors and how their own decorating touches will fit in.

All you need is one "shocking" experience to know the importance of having safe, dependable electricity in your home. Wall outlets range in price from $10 for the simplest up to $80 for ones with USB ports. Ensuring that yours are up-to-date (grounded, emergency cut offs - especially around water, etc.) is an easy way to get peace of mind every time you turn on a computer or lamp. Speaking of lamps, there are so many ways to use lighting to enhance your living space and updating yours - from the least expensive (replacing outdated fixtures) to the slightly more pricey options (taking the recessed route) - can help "light" the way to a better living and house presentation when selling.

Are you waiting ten minutes for hot shower water because of old pipes, or is having one bathroom making you think about adding a deli ticker at the door? According to HomeAdvisor, plumbing projects can range from the mid $1000s (replacing every inch of your existing metal piping with PEX flexible, plastic piping) to $25,000 for converting a spot in your house for a new bathroom.1 If you are looking for beautification fixes for your bathroom or kitchen that won't break the bank, consider updating sink, tub or shower hardware. Along with somewhat more - but not exorbitantly so - expensive options like replacing a sink, toilet or vanity, these types of cosmetic fixes are also great for people trying to make their homes more attractive to a potential buyer.

Putting the "sweet" in home
There are many ways you can improve your home for both you and, if you are readying for a move, buyers, from small- to large-scale - and we've only scratched the surface by talking about the basics without even getting into grander renovations (which, again, are more for you) like basements, attics, additions, etc. In future articles, we'll take a deeper dive into some of these projects, as each poses broader challenges beyond just a coat of paint or a different light fixture. In the meantime, keep thinking of how and what you would change in your home to make it more beautiful and functional, inside and out!

  1. "Bathroom Addition & Renovation Costs," HomeAdvisor,

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