7 Home Upgrades You Can Do For $5,000 Or Less | Old North State Wealth News
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7 Home Upgrades You Can Do for $5,000 or Less

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Budgets can be a big pain. But, like much in life, we’ve got to work with reality.

It’s true that the entire new bathroom or kitchen you yearn for may be out of reach for now. But if you have $5,000, there are many ways to scratch your itch to improve your home with a smallish budget. Pick the project that’s going to improve your home life most, be it new tile on the laundry room floor or a new garage door that welcomes you back every time you return home.

We asked three experts — Thumbtack design expert Morgan Olsen, Angi co-founder Angie Hicks and Brandi Snowden, director of consumer survey research at the National Association of Realtors — for help identifying a selection of projects that would be appropriate for homeowners with a limited budget.

Each includes tips for scaling back if money is tight or getting a little fancier if money allows. Costs will vary from cities to small towns and from one region to another. Our experts estimate project costs that are typical of each job. The range of prices we cite may or may not include installation.

1. Install new flooring

Worker laying vinyl flooring
Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $3,500

A great way to spruce up your home is to install new flooring, Hicks suggests. The Angi 2023 State of Home Spending report finds that adding new flooring is one of the most popular home improvement projects.

On average, Angi finds you’ll need about $3,150 for this project. However, room size and the price of materials have a big effect on the final cost. Polished concrete can run as little as $2 per square foot, Hicks says. Or you will find unique or rare hardwoods for $22 per square foot. Hardwood, tile, and stone will all be at the higher end of most budgets.

Angi finds that installation runs from $0.60 to $4 per square foot. Costs grow if you must rip out old flooring or replace the subfloor.

“If your subfloors are in good shape, you won’t need to worry about replacing them,” Hicks tells Money Talks News.

“If you upgraded 500 square feet of flooring to a nicer laminate option, removing the old flooring (but not replacing the subflooring), it would cost you just under $5,000,” she adds.

  • Cut costs. On a tight budget, look at affordable flooring products like laminate, vinyl, fiberglass-backed vinyl and linoleum. Remove the old flooring yourself to save up to $3.50 per square foot. Do this only if you have the skills, however, and feel certain you won’t damage the subfloor. If you uncover potentially dangerous asbestos or mold, back away and call a professional remediation service.
  • Go fancy. Choose more-expensive hardwood, tile or stone if you like the look. Tackle the flooring in more rooms or in an entire level of your home. (A bigger job might even give you leverage when negotiating with the installer.)

2. Replace the front door

House front door
David Papazian / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $3,500

A new fiberglass front door will cost around $3,500, according to the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors. This improvement tends to pay back well when you sell the home, recovering about 60% of the door’s cost through the sale.

“Consumers typically undertook this project because they were ready for a change and to modernize,” Snowden tells Money Talks News in an email.

  • Cut costs. Shave a bit off the cost of replacing your front door by installing a new steel door instead. Costs typically run $3,150, and the return on investment is even better, letting you recover about 63% of the cost when you sell the home.
  • Go fancy. Add a high-end, high-security lock to your new door. Consumer Reports’ testing names the Medeco Maxum 11TR50319 door lock, at a bit over $300, the top product.

3. Refinish hardwood floors

Clean hardwood floors
Jo Ann Snover / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $3,400, including labor and materials.

Hiring a professional to refinish hardwood floors results in a typical cost of $3,400 for a 2,495-square-foot house (the average size in the U.S.), Snowden says.

Up to 80% of your cost will be for labor, with labor rates at $60 to $160 per hour, according to this Old House. Expect a flooring professional to refinish 100 square feet of hardwood flooring in around five hours.

Refinishing hardwood flooring is one of the best jobs for recouping costs when the home is sold, Snowden says. It typically recoups about $5,000 at resale, for a 147% recovery of your costs.

  • Cut costs. Refinishing your wood floors is not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to rent professional equipment and be diligent in using protective gear for yourself when sanding and applying chemical products. Home Depot shows how, in this video, to refinish or refurbish wood floors. It sells supplies and rents equipment.
  • Go fancy. Depending on prices in your area and the size of your floor, you might be able to stay within our $5,000 budget with a professional application of “the crème de la crème of hardwood floor” treatments, a Swedish finish (also called a “conversion” finish).

4. Add crown molding

worker installing crown molding
edchechine / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $290 to $380

Here’s a satisfying and inexpensive upgrade. Crown molding is trim that runs horizontally along the top of an interior wall. It’s a simple embellishment, but it can really elevate the look of a room.

Crown molding adds architectural interest to a room while helping to conceal imperfections where walls and ceilings meet, Olsen tells Money Talks News in an email. That’s a lot of payback for a job that costs just $290 to $380, according to data from home services website Thumbtack.

To get started, Olsen says homeowners need to learn:

  • The number of linear feet you’ll cover
  • The type of molding material you’ll use (molding materials range from about $1 per linear foot to $45 or more per linear foot)

On the low end, PVC usually runs under $5 per linear foot. Plaster, a traditional material for this job, can average up to $30. When estimating costs, know that room size, complexity, painting and labor also will affect the total cost.

If crown molding’s detailed design doesn’t fit your home’s style, instead use sleek molding around your windows, Olsen advises.

  • Cut costs. Watch costs by choosing materials with a low per-linear-foot cost. Multiple that price by the number of linear feet you’ll need to cover for your total cost for molding.
  • Go fancy. Plaster crown molding — the traditional type — looks great. It can cost up to $30 per linear foot.

5. New garage door

exterior of a home with focus on the garage
Artazum / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $2,000

A new garage door not only is a good way to add to your home’s curb appeal, but it also pays for itself when you sell the home.

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Study finds that a new garage door typically costs about $2,000 and — ta da! — it can earn back $2,000 at resale, for a 100% recovery of cost. The study found nearly a quarter of homeowners who undertook this project did so because they are planning to sell their home within the next two years.

Your price will vary, depending on your location, installation costs and the type and size of the door you use.

Popular garage door materials include steel, wood and wood composite, aluminum, fiberglass and vinyl.

6. Interior painting

Woman painting a wall
mimagephotography / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $1,997

Make a big impact on a budget by painting the interior of your home. Hicks says that Angi’s research shows:

  • The average U.S. homeowner spends about $1,997 ($2.75 per square foot) on this job. Including walls, trim, and ceilings brings the job to $4.70 per square foot.
  • A 330-square-foot living room can cost from $900 to $2,000 to paint, depending on where you live, whether you paint ceilings and trim and how many coats of paint and primer you use. The cost for preparing walls is $0.50 to $0.75 per square foot.
  • On average, a painter charges $20 to $50 per hour.
  • You’ll also need to spend about $300 on materials like brushes, rollers, drop cloths, trays and ladders. If you hire a painting company, ask if they’re rolling these costs into your per-square-foot fee.
  • Costs are a good bit higher in metro regions than in smaller cities.

To get maximum value, do as many rooms as your budget allows at the same time. This will allow you to save a bit on the materials and other costs with your painter. You can also give your trim and ceilings a refresh at the same time — really giving your whole interior space a makeover.

If you’re trying to cut back on your budget, you can skip painting the ceilings and trim and instead paint the inside of closets and other hidden locations on your own. You can also select specific rooms instead of doing your full interior and really make your budget work for you.

  • Cut costs. Scale back costs by picking a few rooms where you spend lots of time — typically the living room, kitchen or bedroom.
  • Go fancy. Hire a designer to guide you in using newer, trendy colors in a way that best showcases your home.

7. Upgrade insulation

Worker installing thermal insulation material on wall
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Typical cost for this kind of remodel project: $2,500

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report finds that homeowners typically spend around $2,500 to upgrade the insulation in their home.

The big payback: You stand to recover $2,500 — or 100% of the cost — when you sell the home.

Consumers usually undertake this project to improve energy efficiency in their home, according to Snowden.

  • Cut costs. Interview several insulation installers and discuss the job with them to learn how you can conserve costs — whether through the materials you choose or by scaling back the job to do one area of the home now and reserving the rest for later. Don’t waste your money pulling out old insulation, says Family Handyman.
  • Go fancy. Now that you’ve buttoned up air leaks and added insulation, top off the job with a cozy electric fireplace. This Old House reviews products with prices starting at $150.

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