You don't need to spend thousands of dollars when remodeling to get a decent return on your investment.
Dear Angie: What's a relatively affordable (under $2,000) home improvement that will improve the resale value? I've been thinking about investing in an extensive paver patio to increase our home's curb appeal and value. – Joshua P., Indianapolis
Dear Joshua: The answer really depends on what your plans are with your home. Do you plan to move within the next year or two? If so, replacing the garage door and front entry door might be the way to go. Angie's List members report spending an average of $1,726 for a new garage door, including installation.
The exterior of the home is what is going to make the first impression on a buyer, so neglecting obvious repairs or damage could be an automatic turnoff for the prospective buyers before they ever step foot inside or go beyond to see your pretty pavers out back.
Paint and landscape — it's cheap and easy
Adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to update and freshen up a home, inside or out. If you're planning on selling your home soon, use neutral colors for the interior so prospective buyers aren't distracted by your design choices.
You can also make some aesthetic improvements to your landscaping for a minimal investment, simply by clearing dead plants and weeds, trimming overgrown bushes and shrubs, planting some fresh flowers and adding mulch. A well-designed landscape can add 7 to 14 percent to your home’s value.
Remodel for your enjoyment
If, however, you plan to stay in your home for a few more years, and the garage and front door are in good shape, then adding a paver patio might be the way to go.
You’ll increase your home’s curb appeal and resale value and you’ll also get to enjoy the area while you’re using it. In fact, hardscaped exterior living spaces are the hottest trend going right now. Homeowners increasingly want to take their entertaining and recreation options outside.
The great thing about a hardscaping project is that you can also do it in phases with cutoff points, so the project is done within your budget and doesn’t look incomplete. For example, this year you could add a paver patio and next year add a fire pit, seating wall, or outdoor kitchen.
Whatever you decide, if you enlist the help of a contractor, be sure to do your homework first. Get at least three bids for your project and hire a company that is reputable and properly licensed and insured. Be sure to ask for references, and check into the company’s past work.
Doing a little research in advance can ensure the job is done well and within your budget.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on July 19, 2012.
What home improvements have you recently completed? Tell us about it in the comments section below.