For the last year and a few months, the Enginerds have been landlords. Because we love our tenants, my sister and her dogs, and can’t really move them out for extended periods of time, we needed cheap and quick upgrade ideas to work on the house and get rid of the early 2000s vibe it possesed. (Some of these will pay off high returns upon selling the property and give the interior a nice modern appeal.) Keep in mind that in some situations it is easier to commission new construction and customize it in lieu of remodeling as a turn key home is easier to move into than live out of your own home while the crew builds around you.
1. Change the original light fixtures
Average time: 15 mins per fixture
This project can range from $7 USD a light to $$$. For example Lowe’s sells a 6 pack of single ceiling light fixture that makes the cost lower than buying them individually. Depending on the size of the ceiling box some fixtures could be replaced with can lights.
Changing the ceiling, wall, vanity fixtures, and outdoor lights in a typical 2,000 sq ft home can be accomplished for less than $300 USD if you don’t get too fancy – 10 lights at 30 each. Costco is a great spot to find lighting deals to meet this budget especially when purchasing LED products which are eco-friendly and save money long term. The hue and color of the lights are more crisp and true to sunlight too so it takes a few days to get used to it. 😎
2. Upgrade the thermostat
Average time: 20 mins
Automate your home with a wifi enabled thermostat to control the temperature remotely. This is very convenient for those who travel, those with pets or those who own temperature sensitive items. Prices for these start around $65 USD and can be as high as $200 for a Nest smart home enabled device. If you have a traditional thermostat you can upgrade it to a more modern or touchscreen model for roughly $45- $60 USD. (Check Fry’s, Costco or your local warehouse or membership store for deals.) Unless you have a highly complex cooling and heating system you can do this yourself. Consult a pro for more details.
3. Upgrade the smoke detectors
Average time: 15 mins per detector
Smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years by law and by design. New smoke detectors have built in lithium batteries that replace the need to have a 9 volt back up model, avoiding ever hearing again the annoying beep of a low battery warning. Score! However, they must be replaced every 10 years or so as well. Detectors are sold in packs of 3, 6 or 10 devices since manufacturers highly recommend replacing them all at once. (Total cost $10+ USD per detector.) A 2500 sq ft home will require changing at least 6 to 10 detectors depending on room quantities, types of enclosed spaces and hallways.
4. Upgrade the bathroom vanities
Average time: 3-5 hours
Minor bathroom remodeling costs can be recouped almost in its entirety when flipping or selling a house as they raise the value of your property more effectively, and for less cost, than a major remodel. Lowe’s, Overstock, Wayfair, Amazon and many other retailers sell vanity, sink and mirror inclusive combos starting at $150. In some cases a medicine cabinet type mirror comes with the bundle. Although it can get pricey to purchase a prefabricated and preassembled cabinet and sink, this shaves off a few installation hours. Don’t forget to cut the water flow before dismantling existing plumbing and to measure the location of the pipes before purchasing the unit. Pipe sizes and locations vary by home and can limit your choices causing you multiple runs back to the store.
5. Update the light switch and outlets
Average time: 5-10 mins per outlet
Automate the light switches and outlets or simply replace them with new flat switches and USB port compatible outlets. For the technologically inclined, get the outlets with both Type A and C USB ports as the latter will become popular in the near future. Many households will benefit from motion sensor light switches and integrated outlet nightlights, especially those with children or pets, saving money and effort long term. Plus, they’re way cool! These smart-er outlets can run $2-$5 USD and the wifi ones can run $12 and up. Depending on your decor, you could switch them – pun intended – for stainless steel, black, or unique colored parts offered in many major big box stores. Take a walk down the electrical aisle and you’ll see what I mean.
I hope these suggestions make you realize there are numerous opportunities to do quick updates to your home. These five came in handy when selling and designing our homes, helping with the wow factor. Check out current decorating trends and find a style that suits your needs. Don’t wait until you are selling your home to complete these updates. Some, like the smoke detectors, will be hard to escape from doing as they are a special condition that must be met to sell.
Have fun remodeling!