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Marti Pattinson

Big-Impact, Low-Cost Remodeling Projects

Here are some budget-minded enhancements you can give your home a whole new look and feel. 

Tidy up kitchen cabinets: Home owners can add rollout organizing units, they feel like there’s a lot more room for all your stuff.

Add or replace tile: By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner than it is. Every city has stores that offer $1 to $2 tile, so home owners have to pay only for the low-cost tile and labor to replace a dated backsplash or add a new one. You can also use inexpensive tile to upgrade bathrooms. 

Add a breakfast bar:  When a wall separates a kitchen from a family room, cutting out an opening to create a breakfast bar is a great change for little cash. After cutting the structure of the cutout, add an oversized granite breakfast bar, and put chairs in front of it. That cost about $600."

Install granite tile instead of a slab of granite: Everybody is hot for granite kitchen countertops, but that can be a $5,000 upgrade.  Instead, home owners can put in 12-inch granite tiles for about $300 in materials and get very high impact for little money. 

Freshen up a bathroom without retiling:  With a dated bathroom, putting in a new medicine cabinet for $100 to $150, light fixtures for about $100, a faucet for $50 to $75, and a vanity for $200 to $300. will greatly improve the appearance of your bathroom. And, instead of replacing the tile, the existing grout can be lightly scraped and re-grouted, which leaves a haze that can be buffed out and will make the tile look brand new. Also install glass shower doors. A French door adds a lot of panache and elegance for $250, and people will notice the door, not the tile. With all that, you’ve done a bathroom remodel for $1,000 to $2,000.

Add a room:  Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall. That $400 procedure, which will take a contractor one day, netted about $40,000 in the sales price 

Spruce up cabinet fronts:  Home owners can update tired-looking kitchen cabinets. Reconditioning is the least expensive move for under $1,000. "If the wood is starting to look shabby from use or contaminants in the air, take out the nicks and scratches, recondition it with oil, and put new hardware on.  For $1,500 to $4,000, owners can replace the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and for $4,000 to $12,000, they can have all the cabinets refaced. "With re-facing, owners can change the color of the cabinets by replacing the door and having a new skin put on the boxes.  If you have oak cabinets today, you can have cherry the next day.

Replace light fixtures:  In a foyer and in bathrooms and kitchens replacing overhead light fixtures provides a lot of pop for a little money. If the kitchen has track lighting, spend $450 to $600 to have an electrician replace it with recessed canned lights on a dimmer switch to add ambience. For about $700, you can install the popular pendant lights over a kitchen island or peninsula.

Tech-up the garage:  Sometimes we replace the garage door opener with a remote touchpad entry system. That will cost  about $425 and makes it look like a high-end system.

This article in part appeared in the REALTOR Magazine Online. Original manuscript was by G.M. Filisko.

Published Monday, December 28, 2009 7:04 PM by Marti Pattinson

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