Many of us have started honing our cooking and cocktail making skills, completing artistic projects, doing massive jigsaw puzzles and creating a mini-industry of mask-making sewing clubs. But being stuck at home also allows you to take on some home improvement projects that can add real value to your home.
Short-term projects can increase long-term home equity
The fastest way to increase your home’s value is by making a plan. As a general rule of thumb, home improvement projects cost about 25 cents on the dollar. The other 75 cents goes directly back to increasing your home’s value.
Upgrades made on impulse are not the way to go here but don’t try to be too ambitious. This is not the time to try to replace the roof or build a deck. You don’t want to start a big project only to have stay-at-home restrictions lifted, forcing you to abandon partially completed work.
But smaller projects are easier to accomplish and less expensive. Plus, there’s less risk of a ending up in the hospital with an unnecessary injury.
12 DIY home improvements to do during COVID-19
Note that some of these projects might require getting supplies from a home improvement store. Major chains are open but may have reduced hours, social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, so be aware. Many provide curbside pickup for online orders, and smaller items can be delivered right to your door. Just plan ahead!
Here’s our list of the best home improvement projects that can make your space more pleasant during quarantine while adding real value to your home.
- Paint a room
They say a coat of paint can hide a multitude of sins. It’s probably the most common — and transformative — home improvement project there is. Neutrals are the safest choice if you’re looking to put your place on the market anytime soon. About a gallon for a 400 square foot room should do it. You probably already have the supplies — paint rollers, drop cloth, painter’s tape — tucked away somewhere. Don’t forget some rags to clean up spills.
- Refresh your front door
Painting a front door is a great way to get rid of leftover paint sitting in the garage. And you won’t need a lot. While you’re at it, if you have window trim or shutters that need a touch-up, go for it. If you feel really adventurous, paint your mailbox to tie it all together. Remember, water-based paint dries faster than oil-based paint, so we’d opt for water-based.
- Replace faucets
Updating bathroom or kitchen sink fixtures is a pretty easy DIY project. In just a few hours, you can have a shiny, new faucet. Kitchen and bathroom fixtures run from $60 for basic designs to over $300 for touchless faucets (perfect for avoiding germs). Before diving in, watch a few DIY videos to make sure you have the tools required.
- Out with old grout
Grout is porous, which makes cleaning it difficult. Even attacking it with bleach and a toothbrush won’t get grimy grout looking as good as new. Replacing it is the way to go. Remove loose grout with a putty knife, squeeze in the new grout and sponge away excess. If you’re feeling bold, try a new color or texture to refresh tubs, tiles and backsplashes.
- DIY Under Cabinet Lighting
It only takes about 30 minutes to add under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen, pantry or laundry room. First, decide on how many lights you’ll need and where to place them to light up countertops and backsplashes. We like LED strip lights as the energy used goes toward illumination rather than producing heat. Warning: You’ll need a power drill for this one!
- Update your hardware
When opening and closing kitchen cabinets and drawers, we hardly notice the handles and pulls we’re handling and pulling. For this simple makeover, grab antique glass knobs and flea market finds on eBay, or shop cutting-edge contemporary online. Most cabinets have standard holes for installation, but measure before you buy. Have a Phillips head screwdriver handy!
- Spruce up the deck
We’re not suggesting building a new deck, but refinishing one is manageable. To start, sand the surface and rails, taking care to remove flaking paint or stain. After giving it a good wash, it’s ready for a new coat of paint or penetrating stain, neither of which require future stripping like solid stains. Finish it off with new chair cushions and a matching umbrella to make your outside space ready for a party — when social distancing is lifted.
- Branch management
Landscaping can raise the value of a home, but it takes work. For big jobs, call a professional, but you can handle the small stuff. Keep gutters free of leaves, needles and twigs as they can cause drainage problems. Remove small branches from trees and shrubs brushing against exterior walls and windows. Do the same with climbing ivy. It looks nice, but it can gain a foothold in cracked mortar, loose bricks, wood shingles and vinyl siding. Once it takes root, it can lead to moisture, rot and insects.
- Amp up the curb appeal
Your driveway is the first thing visitors see, so keep it fresh. Driveway painting is a relatively easy DIY project and can be applied to both concrete or black-top drives. Paints come in a variety of colors, all available online and via delivery. Clean your driveway first, and patch any holes or cracks. One coat should do if you’re using 2-part epoxy. For other paints, you’ll need two. It should last about five years, though extreme climates and usage can wear it down sooner. Once you notice it peeling, it’s time to re-coat.
- Switch the switch plates
Cracked switchplates are an eyesore and they’re dangerous. Dust and debris can get trapped inside and cause an electrical fire. But even fully functional switchplates can be replaced if you’re looking for a low-cost upgrade. Modern switch plates and dimmers come in hundreds of styles and include safety covers for tiny fingers, cord connectors for cable hook-ups and even built-in USB chargers. Best part? All you need is a screwdriver.
- Rugs capture pet and cigarette odor.
Bad smells can kill a potential sale, which is why realtors often suggest baking chocolate chip cookies before an open house. If you have pets, smokers or teenagers living in your home, it’s time for some deep cleaning. First, rent a carpet cleaner and get rid of area rugs. Wood floors and walls also absorb odors, so wash them down. Spray on upholstery cleaner can be a big help and Amazon has a ton of choices. Then change out your HVAC’s air filters and finish by replacing the grease filters above your stovetop.
- Entry mats
The most straightforward upgrade is the doormat. Greeting friends and strangers with a clean and unfrayed doormat shows that you care about the home they’re about to enter. Options are pretty much endless, with many materials, shapes to colors to choose from. With monograms or seasonal sayings, it shouldn’t be that difficult to find one that suits your family. Plus, there’s no work involved. Just toss it in front of the door and you’re done!
Have fun increasing your home’s value!
We hope you can use the time you’re spending at home during COVID-19 to change things up and try to increase your home’s value. Most home improvement stores are regarded as essential during the lockdown, so for the most part, they’re open. That means you have no excuse not to tackle your to-do list any longer.