‘The Best Home Improvement Advice I Ever Heard’
If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably heard and read plenty of home improvement advice. It just kind of comes with the territory, right? In fact, the second you sign the mortgage, your fellow homeowners will welcome you to the club with tons of tips about fixing up your humble abode—whether you welcome their help or not.
Some of the advice you’ll receive should probably be taken with a smile and a nod … and then immediately disregarded. But every now and then, you’ll hear a piece of advice that’s so full of wisdom, it will stick with you for years to come. Maybe you’ll even pass it on to everyone else!
We asked homeowners and real estate experts about the best home improvement advice they’ve ever heard. So take out your notebook and jot these gems down (or, you know, just bookmark this page). You’re going to want to remember these later.
Paint can solve a plethora of problems
“The absolute best home improvement advice I ever received was one word, and it [was] something of a mantra for my father: ‘Paint.’ Style looking dated? Paint. Want to brighten up a room? Paint. Need to enhance curb appeal? Paint—even if it’s just the front door.
“But my dad also emphasized it was about more than aesthetics. Air getting in through a crack? Caulk it, then paint it. Eaves or fascia rotting? Replace, reseal, paint. Metal patio furniture rusting? Coat it with a rust-prohibiting primer, then keep it painted. The fastest, easiest, and most straightforward answer for both immediate home improvement and long-term care? Paint. This advice has never steered me wrong.” —Monica Eaton-Cardone, homeowner in Clearwater, FL
Fix what you can before you move in
“Before [I moved] into my first home last summer, my mom advised me to fix whatever we could prior to moving in. … And I’m so glad we did, because little projects I saved for after the move, like painting the inside of closet doors, are yet to be complete. Once your furniture and clothes are moved in, it’s just so much harder to work around all this stuff.” —Rebecca Graham, homeowner in Pleasant Grove, UT
Planning a huge renovation? Wait awhile
“If you can, live in a home for a while before renovating. You will be much more thoughtful about how you utilize the space, problems that need to be solved, and new additions you would like to have. This is especially true for high-use locations, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entrances, which can all be costly to renovate.” —Joan Kagan, real estate agent at Triplemint, New York, NY
Renovate with the next buyer in mind
“I’ve moved a lot and purchased homes in a few different states, and the best home improvement advice I ever received was: ‘Don’t think of what you want, think about what the next owner will want.’ When renovating, keeping this wise advice in mind has helped me have every house I’ve ever tried to sell under contract within a week of listing.” —Julie Gurner, homeowner in Lancaster, PA
Do improvements long before you sell
“Make and enjoy home improvements for yourself—what’s the point of waiting until you’re ready to sell your property?” —Barbara Bowers, homeowner and real estate agent in Key West, FL
Cheaper isn’t always better
“‘Cheap is often expensive.’ This proved to be painfully true when we hired a painter to paint our apartment while we were out of town. We got a referral for the guy, who seemed to do a great job for a friend and … we found his fee attractive. Fast-forward a week, when we came back to a filthy apartment that was half-done, with paint everywhere—on the sofa, our floors, and even on newly painted areas! We wound up dealing with more stress than it was worth.” —Brenda Della Casa, homeowner in London
There are some things you just can’t DIY
“My dad told me, ‘You can do anything yourself, except foundation, electrical, or plumbing.'” —Kirsten Selvage, homeowner in Ontario, Canada
Pretty stupid is not pretty
“Don’t forget function. ‘Pretty stupid is not pretty!’ I’ve shared that quote with many clients over the years; never allow aesthetics to trump function in your design. A common example we see all the time is beautiful kitchens with inadequate counter space or cabinets that can’t open when appliances/other cabinets are being used.” —Katherine Scarim, owner of Island Bridge Realty, Jupiter, FL
Do it right the first time
“It’s cheaper to do it right than it is to do it over.” —Jim Molinelli, architect in Columbia, MD
Not everything goes as planned
“Every project costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you think.” —Lori Smith, homeowner in Pataskala, OH