Shopping for homes can be hard. From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. When you are on your home search, you may notice problems with each home. These problems may seem huge and expensive. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. There are many little things that you may think are super expensive, but end up being easy fixes. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the ten fixes below is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for.
1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting, or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing. This is less expensive and will only take a weekend to do. For more open cabinets, you can easily remove the cabinet doors.
2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope. You can also make a color scheme for the appliances. For example, you can have all stainless steel appliances to create a modern appearance.
Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details. A quick swap out of appliances is a lot easier to do then moving those same appliances around the kitchen.
3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels. You can also add in new rug to a room with hardwood flooring.
4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue. We’ve even got some tips to decrease the cost of your next painting project.
5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants to Edison-bulb chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste. Also, be sure to put in energy efficient bulbs when you swap out your light fixtures. Nothing looks as good as saving feels.
Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail. This will also delay you being able to move in to your new space.
6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sun room. Plus, none of their furniture will still be in your home when you move in (unless pre-agreed upon in your contract). You can easily update the space and make it what you want. That smelly green futon won’t be in your dream home for much longer.
Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Any additional room will have to be up to the most current code, which gets expensive quick. Electric wiring, proper insulation, and any other add on you may want can add quickly add costs to your budget. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.
7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead. This is an easy task that either you or a contractor can do for you.
8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home. We’ve even got some ideas pinned on our Pinterest boards if you’re lacking inspiration.
9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.
10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day. You can easily add in sod, flowers, or drought resistant plants to the front and back of your home. Little touches will make the home uniquely yours.
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