For You First Time Homeowners

Some tips and tricks for first time, on a budget buyers looking to spruce up their home

You’ve bought your first home and while it’s in good shape, it could use a little remodeling and renovating. The problem is you don’t know where to begin, which projects you can do and which ones need a professional contractor.

Depending on how much hands-on, do-it-yourself knowledge you possess, there are quite a few renovation projects that are easily accomplished. If your knowledge is limited, there are many websites, videos, how-to articles and online tools to help you get started.

The list below includes projects homeowners can do with minimal cash output and a few supplies. The most costly items are your time and a little elbow grease.

Paint – add a new coat of paint to each room. Experiment with color combinations and think out-of-the-box by painting an accent wall. Use one of the interactive paint tools available online (check out Benjamin Moore’s ‘Personal Color Viewer’ or my Colortopia’s array of color tools) and at home improvement centers to see how selected colors will actually look before buying.

Caulking – check around windows and door frames, baseboards, bathtubs, shower bases and any area where caulking is present and may have deteriorated. A caulk gun and a tube of the appropriate caulk is a good way to tighten up your home.

Faucets and Fixtures – upgrade old faucets, both indoors and outdoors. Install new stylish fixtures on kitchen cabinet doors and bathroom vanities. Replace doorknobs, switch plates and receptacle plates.

Burglar Bars – if the home has security bars and rust is present, sand the bars and repaint with a quality water resistant paint.

Replace old screens in windows, doors or porches with new screen and spline.

Vinyl Tile – this project can be tricky if working with patterned tile that needs to line up correctly but with easy peel and stick tiles, it is a doable do-it-yourself project.

Wallpaper – gone are the days of paste and paper with the availability of new peel and stick wallpaper tiles. Tile an entire room or create an accent wall.

Appliances – replace outdated appliances with energy efficient models. Certain Energy Star qualified appliances can save you up to $80 a year on your electric bill (every little bit can help).

Window treatments – install wooden, vinyl or cloth blinds at windows to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Areas that need expert help can make your home more comfortable, convenient and increase the dollar value of your home.

Exterior Paint – hire a professional painter with the equipment and knowledge to get the job done including pressure washing exterior walls.

Bathroom – update the bathroom by having an old bathtub removed and replaced with a modern tile shower enclosure or whirlpool bathtub. Have an energy efficient toilet installed.

Kitchen – have out-of-date cabinets and countertops replaced and decorative backsplashes installed. For a cheaper alternative, many will refinish, stain or paint their existing cabinets to literally save thousands.

Flooring – replace old carpet with modern wood flooring or ceramic tile.

Lighting – hire an electrician to replace or install new track lighting, recessed lighting and ceiling fans.

Windows and Doors – hire a contractor to replace drafty windows and doors with energy efficient models. You may even quality for a Federal tax credit when installing certain models of doors and windows (see if you qualify here).

Use these suggestions as a checklist for home renovations and you’ll be off to a good start in getting your home updated, modernized and as energy efficient as possible.