Real Estate

12 renovations that add instant value to your cottage or home

worker-installing-new-plastic-pvc-window Photo by ronstik/Shutterstock

We often think of cottages as investment properties, but that’s no reason to neglect the value of your home. After all, you’re putting your hard-earned money into it, and with a mortgage comes an interest rate. So why not try to get the most out of your property?

If you’re looking to add value to your home, there’s no better way than by renovating. Don’t get intimidated, though. Renovations come in many shapes and sizes, from big additions out back to a freshly landscaped garden.

Whichever direction you choose, be sure to protect your investment with the right kind of insurance. You might be surprised to hear that a renovation can lower your premiums and make it more likely you’ll be able to increase your coverage with special endorsements.

Increase your curb appeal

 You get only one chance at a first impression. The same can be said for your house. If the first thing people see when pulling up to your driveway is an unkempt lawn, ratty garage door, and a garden that’s seen better days, that’s what will stick with them. Don’t forget that your damage insurance representative will also remember this first impression So, start small. Cut the grass. Landscape your front garden. Plant a shrub or two.

Repaint your front door(s)

 Like we said—a garage door that’s seen better days can give off a bad first impression. Similarly, a front door that looks either dated or dilapidated is a bad introduction to your house. If you have the extra cash, it’s worth upgrading your garage door and finding a new front door that makes a statement, but a fresh coat of paint is an easy fix at a fraction of the cost. In fact, a recent study showed that houses painted a darker colour, like charcoal or even black, sell for as much as $6,271 more than expected.

Throw on a fresh coat

One of the cheapest things you can do to spruce up your space is also one of the best ways to increase its value. Some studies have shown that the return on investment of slapping on a fresh coat of paint is as much as 165 percent, but it’s important to remember that cost-effective doesn’t always mean straightforward. Neutral blues are a safe bet, but high contrast “tuxedo” paint jobs in kitchens, pairing black lower cabinets with white walls and white upper cabinets, are also all the rage right now. When it doubt, think conservatively.

Update the kitchen

It’s easy to be intimidated at the thought of renovating your kitchen, but when it comes to increasing the value of your home, it’s still the smartest route. You can start small, too; upgrading your appliances (preferably to stainless steel) before ripping out your cabinets, building a new kitchen island, and re-doing the floors. Of course, if you have the means, those other upgrades can add tremendous value. Redoing the plumbing is always a good way to please insurers, but find out about the materials that will be used.

Redo the bathroom

There’s a sliding scale when it comes to upgrading and updating your bathrooms, but next to kitchen renovations, it’s the best ROI when it comes to increasing the value of your home. As always, you can start with the little things: a new medicine cabinet, a more modern sink, and updated taps and fixtures are easy ways to modernize the space. But comfort and luxury can also make a huge difference, whether that’s adding heated floors, re-doing the lighting, or swapping in a new shower or soaker tub.

A smart home for a smart owner

You don’t have to pick a side, since we’re a ways out from knowing whether Google or Amazon or Apple will reign supreme when it comes to AI, but upgrading elements of your house to something smarter can make it seem more future proof. Think smart doorbells, voice-controlled thermostats, and programmable lights. Bringing your house into the 21st century doesn’t have to break the bank.

Update or upgrade your handles and knobs

Like with a great outfit, accessories in the home are an easy upgrade, and something as simple as updating the handles on your cabinetry and knobs on your doors can do wonders for the look and feel of your home. The main thing to consider when replacing knobs and handles is consistency, at least when talking room-to-room. Find a style that works and stick with it. If you like contrasting dark handles on your white bedroom dressers, don’t have brass handles on the nearby nightstand. It’s all in the details.

Lighten up the place

Get rid of any fluorescent lights, install new fixtures, and look for soft lighting wherever possible. While we’re not saying you should go overly ornate and fill your space with fancy Edison bulbs and elaborate, exquisite chandeliers, something as simple as adding dimmers and task lighting throughout your home can instantly change how it feels when people enter the room. Ideally, you want to switch to LED where possible, maybe even a smart LED system, but experts also think you should consider incandescent bulbs when it actually comes time to show your space. A well-lit home is a security feature. Thieves are more likely to choose a dark house to burgle.

Finish your basement

Even if you aren’t planning on renting it out as an investment property, a finished basement can turn an eyesore into usable space, and when it comes to square footage, the more the merrier. Basement lowering and underpinning has come a long way, and the result is a surprisingly livable lower level space. But even if you’re not adding a bedroom or full living unit on the bottom floor, making it usable makes all the difference, whether that means turning it into a man cave or just extra office space. Don’t forget to call your damage insurance representative before starting this type of renovation.

Re-insulate the place

Whether you’re topping it up or starting from scratch, filling up on insulation is a great way to save on energy costs, reduce noise between rooms, and, if you opt for something like cellulose or sheep’s wool, make your house more eco-friendly.

Rip up your carpet

Even if you’ve long-since abandoned your old shag flooring, ripping up your carpet is an easy way to take the look of your living space up a few levels. Of course there are risks—you want to know what the carpet is covering, and prepare yourself for the cost of refinishing your floors—but a lot of people see carpets as high-maintenance or unclean. Sure, they have their place, but if your living room is still carpeted, consider ripping it up and complementing your newly exposed floors with a nice area rug.

Add a back deck (or refinish your existing one)

Outdoor space is important, so make sure yours has somewhere for people to relax when they’re outside. Now, when we say to add a deck, we don’t mean you have to build something that would make your cottage neighbours jealous. Even having enough space to put a barbecue, some chairs, and a table, can make your backyard more inviting. Just don’t be afraid to be picky when building your deck, since the right stain and the right materials can be make or break. Decks made of composites tend to cost more and return less value, so look for the perfect wood grain (or stain) when fixing up your back space. This goes doubly for your cottage or cabin.


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