Homeownership means home maintenance. It’s just the law of the land. As a DIY’er, your to do lists of improvements and repairs are probably long.
Of course, some line items are for safety, some are necessary, and some are on the wish list.
Whether you’re looking to improve the value of the house or simply need to minimize damage, when it comes to dealing with home problems—prioritize, create a plan, and stick to your budget.
With a little creativity, you might find the solutions are easier than you think.
What Home Improvements Add the Most Value?
With home improvement, there is a range of complexities. A simple fix might mean adding a shelf for storage, while other projects can balloon into a total kitchen remodel.
Whatever home problem you’re facing, consider the range of possible solutions.
For example, if there’s no place near the kitchen to grill outdoors, consider building a deck, pouring a concrete pad, installing paver stones, or putting in a door from the kitchen for better access to an existing outdoor space.
There’s no one right answer, but a key consideration is what adds the most value to your home.
While small investments can increase the home’s appeal, sometimes spending a lot of money doesn’t pay you back in increased market value. So while you’re solving your home’s issues, evaluate the return on investment.
If you’re wondering about the projects that provide the highest ROI, the list stays pretty steady over time.
Kitchen and bathroom remodels are at the top of the list. You will nearly always see a strong ROI on these projects, as long as you don’t get crazy with the design.
Replacing the garage door, adding a brick facade to the exterior of the home, and installing new windows and decks are also good investments.
Many times, rather than focusing on resale, you just need a simple solution to a pressing issue. Here are some to consider.
1. Dark Corridors Inside
Safety and convenience are paramount inside the home. Proper lighting is the cornerstone of moving around without tripping or running into things.
Make sure your hallways are lit throughout the dark days of winter and nighttime year round with motion-sensored lights.
There are inexpensive options you can plug into outlets, making it easier for the eldest and youngest members of the family to light up the pathway without searching for a light switch.
Having the lights only turn in when there is movement adds a safety feature if the pets or kids are moving around at night unsupervised. Plus, it saves money on the electrical bill and keeps the house dark while everyone is asleep.
Hack—In addition to installing motion lights, make the light switch easier to find by applying a small dab of glow in the dark paint to the switch. When the lights are out, the paint will provide enough color to easily locate it.
2. Dark Corners Outside
Safety is a concern outside the home too. From lighting up a pathway as you enter the home to shining a light onto whatever is in the backyard, motion lights are an inexpensive and easy solution.
The best thing about this hack is that you don’t even have to replace the entire light. Instead, you can skip the wiring and replace the bulbs.
Both bulbs and light fixtures come in smart home options, where you can control the device from an app on your phone.
If you’re replacing the outdoor light, units with a built-in camera are a little more costly, but offer peace of mind and convenience. They are still motion-censored, or you can turn lights and cameras on and off using your phone app.
3. High Water Bills
You might be surprised at the ways you can save water in and around your home. Many of these solutions add a layer of convenience in addition to lowering the water bill.
Start by automating everything. Use a showerhead that stops running once the water gets warm. This keeps the family from running water longer than necessary before getting in.
Put the outdoor irrigation system on a timer. Water early or late to reduce evaporation loss. If you rely on above-ground sprinklers or soaker hoses, install a handy and inexpensive timer to the faucet to control the flow.
The hose plugs directly into the timer, so it’s simple to set up, but it will save you the hassle of remembering to water or forgetting to turn the water back off.
Replace old toilets. You’ll save a ton on newer, efficient models that use less water with each flush.
Hack—If you’re not in the market for a new toilet, add a brick or filled water bottle to the toilet tank. The added weight raises the water level, which means less filling and less water consumption.
Add a nozzle to the outdoor hose. When watering or washing the car, an inexpensive nozzle allows you to turn off the water in between tasks. It also allows you to control the flow of the water you use.
4. Pooling Around the Home’s Foundation
Water is an insidious source of damage in and around the home. Meticulously manage water movement, watching for drips throughout the home. Outside, ensure water doesn’t pool around the foundation.
If it does, your landscape slope might be to blame. It’s an expensive endeavor to reslope the land.
Although that will ultimately be the best solution in some cases, try installing a French drain system, which diverts excess water out to the street and to the municipal storm drains.
For water that pools at the bottom of downspouts, you have several options. You can dig out a hole away from the foundation that acts as a reservoir for excess water during heavy rainfall. Cover it with a grate or gravel.
The pit can be attached to the French drain on the other side, or pipes can be run to the drain without the reservoir too.
For a quick and easy solution, attach wide hoses to the bottom of the downspout, which will divert the water anywhere you choose for it to go. It’s not the most aesthetic solution, but it will solve the problem.
Finally, if you have a sump pump, keep it in good working order. If you don’t have one and you need one, it’s well worth the investment.
5. You Lack Curb Appeal
If the look of your home doesn’t bring you joy, there are countless ways to jazz it up without a ton of time, money, or effort.
Start with the front porch. Add decking if needed. Paint the front door. Replace the porch lights. Add new hardware to the door and surrounding area. Buy a new welcome mat.
Pressure wash the front of the home for a fresh look. Touch up paint and replace siding and fascia pieces as needed. Then install some planter boxes. Paint or install shutters around windows for contrast and visual interest.
Add color and appeal throughout the landscape. Plant flowers everywhere. Hanging baskets, pots on the deck, flower beds, raised boxes, and flowers ramp up the curb appeal.
6. Lack of Storage
It’s a complaint of many homeowners. There’s just nowhere to store blankets, extra dishware, or books. But there are so many ways to add storage to a home.
Look to the studs. If you have drywall, locate space between studs void of pipes or wires. Cut out the drywall and frame in the hole for a nearly-instant built-in shelf.
You can build these along stairways or in any room to house books, knick knacks, and other treasured items.
Turn odd cutouts into closets. Look around your rooms for spaces that are inset. For example, a portion of a bedroom wall may cover the backside of a chimney (or water heater or stairway or hall bathroom), leaving an alcove on one or both sides.
Extend the wall to the edge of the room to create storage space. These odd sections of the room are often difficult to design around anyway, so enclose them or add shelving.
If you’re in the market for new kitchen cabinets, install taller cabinets all the way to the ceiling. Use the extra upper shelves for storage.
Use that space under the stairs. It’s small, but you’ll be surprised what it can hold with the proper organization. Install a wire rack down one wall. Put a shoe holder over the inside of the door. Place hooks on the wall to hold brooms and other cleaning supplies.
When it comes to storage, the most important tool is sorting and adamantly refusing to keep unnecessary items. However, storage is an important consideration for potential buyers, so some permanent solutions are worth the investment.
7. The Weathered Deck
At some point, wood decks do need to be replaced. If you have unsafe conditions, consider starting from scratch. However, the majority of the time, repairs, or even simple refreshes, can bring the deck back to life.
Start by replacing cracked, warped, or rotten boards. Apply a deck cleaning solution, following the directions on the bottle. Use a stiff broom or pressure washer on a low setting to clean the deck.
Allow it to dry thoroughly, then apply new stain or paint.
8. Lack of Privacy
Whether the neighborhood is loud or the neighbors are just too close, you can improve the situation with some DIY creativity.
Use blackout curtains. Not only do they keep the morning light out, but they protect the furniture and other finishes from fading. In addition, they keep out peeping eyes and help moderate temperatures within the space.
Build fencing. The neighbors don’t have to be part of your backyard experience. If you don’t have CCRs or HOA regulations that restrict it, build a fence for privacy.
Think outside the standard options with wood, metal, and vinyl. You can also install bamboo fencing that is available in rolls. Weigh the pros and cons of each before making your decision.
If fencing isn’t the best option for your situation, use landscaping to create privacy. Plant climbers like hops, clematis, roses, and jasmine over a trellis or pergola.
9. Wood Flooring Scrapes, Chips, and Water Marks
Of course, you can just throw a rug over problematic areas in your wood flooring, but when it comes time to fix the issue, there are solutions other than replacing the floor.
For very light scratches, try rubbing the area with a shelled walnut. The oils from the nut help fill and seal the scratch. Rub the oil with your finger and buff with a soft cloth.
For deeper scratches, start with a natural mixture of baking soda with a few drops of olive oil. Apply the mixture and allow it to sit for several minutes before buffing with a soft rag. If that doesn’t do the trick, move on to commercial products.
For chips in your wood floor, use a matching colored wood paste to fill the space. Apply wood stain with a small brush if needed.
If your floor needs an overall refresh, you can try products that shine and revive your wood. However, if the damage goes deeper, it’s time to strip and refinish the floor. It’s a big job, but the results can last many years.
10. Hard Water Build-Up
White vinegar and lemon juice are your friends when it comes to tackling annoying and problematic mineral deposits.
Don’t scrap the faucets and showerheads. Instead, put lemon in a plastic bag and wrap it around the faucet so it contacts the surface. Securing it into place, allow it to sit for several hours before removing the bag.
Use a soft bristled brush to scrub it clean. Alternatively, you can soak your faucet head in white vinegar with the same effect.
For spots on your stainless steel, spray with white vinegar and wipe with a soft cloth.
11. Broken or Torn Screens
Screens don’t do their job if the bugs can still get in. Fortunately, repairing screens is a very manageable DIY task.
You can buy kits at the local home improvement store, or simply order screen material online if your frames are in good condition. Do invest a few bucks for a spline tool. It’s essential in simplifying the process.
If your screen material is torn, simply remove the old material and spline that holds it into place. Cut a new piece of screen, allowing around two inches extra on all sides.
Using your spline tool, press the screen and spline into the groove all the way around. Do not tighten the screen too much.
Instead, pull the screen outward as you work, creating the initial tension. Pressing the spline into place will do the rest.
If the frame is broken on your screen, cut the new pieces to size and use the supplied pieces to create the frame. Then attach the screening material as outlined above.
Dawn Hammon has thrived in freelance writing and editor roles for nearly a decade. She has lived, worked, and attended school in Oregon for many years. Dawn currently spends her days convincing her children she is still smarter than them while creating new experiences with her husband of 24 years.&nbsp;
Her multiple interests have led her to frequently undergo home improvement projects. She enjoys sharing the hard-earned knowledge that comes with it with the audience of DoItYourself.com. Dawn and her sister make up a power-tool loving duo that teaches classes to local women with the goal of empowering them to tackle their fears and become comfortable with power tools.
Tapping into her enthusiasm for saving money and devotion to sustainable practices, Dawn has recently launched a passion project aimed at connecting eco-friendly products and socially-responsible companies with consumers interested in making conscientious purchases, better informing themselves about products on the market, and taking a stand in favor of helping to save the planet.
When she is not providing stellar online content for local, national, and international businesses or trolling the internet for organic cotton clothing, you might find her backpacking nearby hills and valleys, traveling to remote parts of the globe, or expanding her vocabulary in a competitive game of Scrabble.
Dawn holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, which these days she mostly uses to provide therapy for her kids and spouse. Most recently, I worked for a small local professional organizing and estate sale company for four years where I learned a ton about organizing and/or disposing of just about anything.
She was raised in a tool-oriented, hands-on, DIY family. Her dad worked in the floor covering business and owned local floor covering businesses, so of course selling floor covering was one of her first jobs. Her brother was a contractor for about 30 years and site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity. I worked with him often, building decks, painting houses, framing in buildings, etc. With her sister, she holds power tool classes to empower women who are scared or have never used them.
Not quite homesteaders, she did grow up with a farm, tractors, motorcycles, expansive gardens, hay fields, barns, and lots of repairs to do. Plus she and her family preserved foods, raised cattle and pigs, chopped and hauled firewood, and performed regular maintenance on two households, outbuildings, fencing, etc.
As an adult, she has owned two houses. The first one she personally ripped out a galley kitchen and opened it up to the living area, plus updated every door, floor covering, and piece of trim in the place. In her current home, she's tackled everything from installing real hardwood flooring to revamping the landscape.