7 Home Renovation Do’s and Don’ts

Man building with woodAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans spent $130 billion remodeling their homes last year, 3.1% more than in 2012 and the most since 2007. Whether you’re sprucing up your home to sell or planning a reno for personal reasons, keep in mind the long-term return on your renovation investment.

Here’s how to make smart home investments and avoid fixes that can fall flat. Below are the seven do’s and don’ts for fixes that can pay off.

DO: Install an energy-efficient steel door. Selling your home is all about making a good first impression. And first impressions start at the front door.
DON’T: Install a fiberglass front door. The higher cost won’t mean a higher sale price.

DO: Add a spare room. Converting unused basement or attic space into an extra bedroom opens your home to exponentially more buyers.
DON’T: Add an extra bathroom. Plumbing, wiring and tiling make these small spaces extremely expensive add-ons. (However, if your home has only one bathroom, adding a powder room can be a major selling feature.)

DO: Paint. The cheapest and easiest way to refresh a room is with a new coat of paint. If you do it yourself, the only cost will be for paint and brushes.
DON’T: Wallpaper. Anyone who’s had to remove old wallpaper knows what a dreadful task it can be.

DO: Replace cabinet hardware. Changing the handles in the kitchen and bathroom is a cheap and easy way to add some flair.
DON’T: Remodel your home office. Many buyers will look at built-in shelving and desks as something they’ll have to spend money on converting back to a bedroom.

DO: Landscape your property. A mix of hardy perennials and some vibrant low-cost annuals will give your home that all-important curb appeal.
DON’T: Install an in-ground pool. Many buyers will balk at the ongoing maintenance and be fearful of long-term repair and replacement costs.

DO: Make minor repairs. Scour your house from top to bottom for chipped paint, missing or cracked outlet covers to replace and so on. These low-cost DIY tasks will reap untold rewards.
DON’T: Add a sunroom. They’re expensive to install and, when dated, buyers will be leery of the cost of replacing aging windows.

DO: Upgrade your appliances. Energy-efficient ones may qualify for a rebate (check out this state-by-state directory of available rebates), and you’ll cut back on your utility bills for as long as you’re in the house.
DON’T: Add a backup generator. While the peace of mind may help you weather any storm, buyers will not pay a premium for this addition.

Speaking of smart investments, did you know you could get great, affordable home insurance through the GEICO Insurance Agency? If you already have an auto policy with us, you could qualify for a Multi-Policy Discount. Get a fast and free quote today.

What’s your dream reno? Tell us below.

By Allan Britnell

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kate says

    This is so so helpful. We are not thinking of selling our home anytime soon but we do want to do some home improvement for our convenience and to escalate the value. My husband was wanting to make a spare room out of our 3rd living room that just happens to be the “clutter room” and I was a little hesitant. Now I think it would be a great idea!

  2. John Blake says

    I have been thinking about putting a spare bedroom on my home. I never knew it could be good for re-selling. I will need to look into that. Thank you for your help.

  3. Zach Thalman says

    Thank you for telling me what to do and what to avoid for kitchen renovations. I am just getting the kitchen renovated so I don’t think I need to worry too much about adding an extra room.

  4. Lilly Sedrick says

    It is a great idea to have an energy efficient door. This is something that can really help save you a lot of money. I also think that it is a really good idea to have an extra room. This can really help save you a lot of money.

  5. Steven Harrison says

    It seems like a daunting task to understand what values are appreciated and recognized and which ones are not. It must be very beneficial to be in the industry. Otherwise, it’s hard to know whether to paint or wallpaper and whether to landscape or install a pool. Thanks for clearing these up!

  6. Marra Brooks says

    My husband and I have been debating whether we should invest or buy a new home all together. It’s nice to have somewhere to start, even if we do decide to move at least we’ve put more value into our home! I see some renovating in the near future. Thanks for the share!

  7. Emily says

    This was just the information I was looking for! My husband and I are getting ready to do some renovations and we could use some tips. The tip about getting a new color of paint seems like a good idea. We will have to keep that in mind!

  8. Michele says

    Did you know your kitchen and bathrooms can make or break the sale of your home? They are usually the first rooms a prospective buyer wants to see. Any upgrade to your kitchen or bath could add thousands to that offer when you decide to sell your home. I’m a retired kitchen and bath designer and renovations can be very expensive, but there are also less expensive upgrades that will reap great rewards:

    1. On a limited budget? Replace damaged laminate countertops with either a new laminate top in the new colors and textures available…many of the new styles look like granite or stone and are more scratch resilient.
    2. Replace broken/sprung cabinet hinges and drawer slides. Leaving these broken will only lead to more damage and more costly replacements. IMPORTANT: Take a hinge/slide with you when you shop to insure you buy the right type.
    3. Replace that old, dingy and scratched sink with one of the new deeper 8″-10″ models and purchase a better quality high-neck faucet with a sprayer. These make easy cleaning of pots and pans. If you prefer stainless steel, make sure you get 18g or 19g insulated model for increased strength, quietness, and longer life. Use 70% rubbing alcohol to clean.
    4. Cabinets in good condition, but need refinishing? Clean them first to remove built-up grease, grim, and fingerprints. I like to use “Goo Gone Gel” or a Mr. Clean Magic Sponge…both are great at getting rid of the grease (don’t forget to clean the range vent hood, too.) Then apply either a cabinet or furniture polish.
    5. Cabinets falling apart or veneer peeling from substrate? If you’re selling your home, either replace the cabinets or give an allowance or credit to the buyer for them to replace them or advertise your home “as is.” If you decide to replace the cabinets and countertops, do yourself a favor and have them professionally installed…there are too many ways to mess up a cabinet installation that results in uneven, damaged cabinets.
    6. Replace old, damaged flooring or give a credit as described in #5.

    1. Replace the vanity if it’s in poor condition and get a new vanity top. If yours is a standard size (24″, 36″, 48″, 60″), kits are usually available at the “big box” stores and include the vanity and a simulated marble top with bowl. Buy and better quality faucet in satin nickel to upgrade your the appearance.
    2. Replace tub faucet and showerhead in satin nickel and, if possible, get a combination showerhead with a handheld included.
    3. Replace towel bars, rings, and toilet paper holders in the same style and finish.
    4. Remove any wallpaper and borders, then paint the walls white or other light neutral. All paint manufacturers recommend using a semi-gloss or satin finish that is both mildew resistant and scrub-able. High-gloss paint should only be used on cabinets and trim. NOTE: There really is no such thing as bathroom paint…it is a marketing tool that costs a lot more.
    5. If the flooring is in good to excellent condition, clean it thoroughly. If in poor condition, replace it with a material you can afford or give a credit as described above.
    6. Finally, replace the toilet with one of the 17″ high-rise models, not only for re-sale purposes, but for your own comfort as well. Make sure it has syphon jet-action or other more efficient flushing capability.

    Make sure the description of your home is honest. Prospective buyers are much more likely to make offers when the descriptions are accurate and your asking price reflects credits or allowances for areas you know need renovation.

    I hope this helps you make your decisions about these very important areas of your home. Save your gasoline, and do your research online. There are so many resources that will assist you in selections and decision-making…go to manufacturers’ and store websites. Make sure you only hire licensed and bonded professionals to prevent nightmares. If you are a skilled DIYer, there are online videos available on how to do all the tasks I’ve described. There even sites that will help you with measurements and calculations.

  9. Laila Keirstead says

    Thanks for the tips on what to do and don’t for a renovation. I think that it is important to know what is going to be an ideal renovation and what is going to be a little more difficult than imagined. For instance, the extra bathroom that you said not to do. That would be a lot of money and could be a huge hassle especially if you add plumbing in the house. I don’t even know how you would be able to do that without making a separate system specifically for this bathroom.

  10. Jenkins Leroyson says

    These are some great tips to know before starting a home renovation. My wife really wants to change a few things up so we’ll be sure to put into practice a few of these things. I like your idea of adding an extra bedroom. I agree that it will really open things up for both buyers and guests.

  11. Drew Harrison says

    I’m glad that wallpaper is falling out of fashion. I’ve personally never been a big fan of the wallpaper look. Now I can use my fashion sense and be in style too! Thanks for posting this great list of dos and don’ts!

    • Dianaa Hilton says


      These are the great tips Allan.I really appreciate that you have updated everyone that what and how we should go for while renovation.

      Also, I really liked the idea of Landscape property, I really think that it will give a great appealing look.

      Thank buddy for such great ideas.

      Looking forward for more such great tips. 🙂

  12. Wendy Cartright says

    My husband and I just bought a major fixer-upper. Every room in the house needs to be redone from top to bottom. We are excited to turn it into our dream home. Thanks for these really helpful tips for remodeling.

  13. Zach Potter says

    My wife and I just recently had some water damage in our home and afterwards just decided to do a few other things while already at work. Thank you for the tips and the lists of do’s and donts as we are still fairly new to the home owning gig. Though so far we love having our own place to ourselves. I will be sure to save this and other websites that we have found for future reference.

  14. Jason Scott says

    I recently moved into an older home that is in need of many renovations and we have already been doing most the do’s, and even one or two of the don’ts. Painting was the first thing that we did and it absolutely changed the place. We have replaced the whole kitchen and now have beautiful oak cabinets.