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10 Big-Impact, Low-Cost Remodelling Projects for Home Sellers

Blog by Robert McLean | January 5th, 2010

Modest yet high-impact renovation projects provide the best return on investment...These 10 quick and easy projects may set your home apart from the competition:



1. Tidy up kitchen cabinets

Potential buyers do open kitchen cabinets and look inside.  Add rollout organizing trays so when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff.


2. Add or replace tile

By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner that it was.  We have a number of stores in Langley that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one.  You can also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms.


3. Add a breakfast bar

When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, consider cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar.  In one home, there was a cutout in the wall between the kitchen and living room, we left the structure of the cutout, added an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600.


4. Install granite tile instead of a slab

Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade, instead, you can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money.


5. Freshen up a bathroom without retiling

With a dated bathroom, I recommend putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300.  And instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and regrouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new.  Also install glass shower doors.  A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000.


6. Freshen up the basement

If you have cement block or poured concrete walls in the basement, have a contractor fill in cracks with hydraulic cement and then paint with waterproofing paint.  They can then add a top coat to add color.  They can also paint the basement floor with a good floor paint, which spiffs it up.  The basement may not be finished, but it’s no longer a damp dungeon.


7. Add a room

Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall.  One time, we closed off a half-wall to an office and added a door to the other side of the room, thus creating another bedroom.  That $400 procedure, which took a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price.  Bedrooms can also be added inexpensively.  In a two-bedroom house, there was an archway that led to a third room that was used as a den, it had a dry bar where there would have been a closet, so we took out the dry bar and created a closet so the owners had a third bedroom.


8. Spruce up cabinet fronts

Update tired-looking kitchen cabinets.  Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000.  "If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, we take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on," explains Heidi Morrissey, vice president of marketing and sales at Kitchen Tune-Up in Aberdeen, S.D. For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. "With refacing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes," says Morrissey. "If they have oak cabinets today, they can have cherry the next day."


9. Replace light fixtures

In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens, replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money.  If the kitchen has track lighting, spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience.  For about $700, also suggests installing pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.


10. Tech-up the garage

Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system, that costs about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system.