13 Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund On Home Improvements

Enjoy that hard-earned tax return money on summer evenings by adding a privacy fence or outdoor kitchen.

Your tax refund feels like found money, doesn’t it? Here’s how to use it to spruce up your living space.

April brings many lovely things: warmer temperatures, flowers beginning to bloom, and hopefully a check from Uncle Sam once you’ve filed your taxes. It’s enough to make you giddy with possibilities — no matter the size of your refund. “While it’s typically not sufficient to fund major home improvement projects such as a new addition or a kitchen renovation, it can often provide enough cash to accomplish a wide range of home up-fits and improvements,” says Leigh McAlpin, principal of Dwelling Interiors & Design in Charleston, SC. Here’s how to use your refund to refurbish or enhance your home.

$500 refund: It’s all in the details

Hire a professional organizer. “Since tax refunds often come during the springtime, you can tie this to spring cleaning,” says Sarah Roussos-Karakaian, co-owner of Nestrs, a construction, design, and organizing company in New York, NY. Most organizers charge a day rate, and if you work efficiently, a day or two might be all you need to banish clutter. Before you hire one, be sure to ask if they’re certified by the National Association of Professional Organizers, says Roussos-Karakaian. “It’s a good way to gauge how serious they are about their career.”

Recaulk and repaint your baseboards. “The top of the baseboard where the molding meets the wall gets really dirty over time,” says Roussos-Karakaian. “Caulking and giving it a fresh coat of paint can bring your walls back to life.” Contractors and painters typically charge anywhere from $2.50 to $6 per linear foot depending on the size of your baseboards, so if you don’t DIY it, this project may cost closer to $1,000.

Buy a new rug. The right rug finishes a room, and purchasing one is an excellent way to spend a smaller return. “A general rule for area rugs is that the outer edges of the rug should be between 6 and 18 inches off each wall, closer to 6 inches from the walls in smaller rooms, and up to 18 inches from the walls in larger areas,” says McAlpin. While it may be tempting to buy a small rug to save a few dollars, doing so will make your entire room look out of scale, she advises. “If it’s an open-concept floor plan, use area rugs to frame seating and dining areas, which will help to define the different uses of the space.”

Add curb appeal. Adding or updating some of the essentials, like a new mailbox, some flower boxes, new house numbers, outdoor lighting, and shrubs, can give your home a face-lift. Take your exterior upgrades to the next level by painting your front door. Want an even bigger payoff? Repaint the trim around windows and other features while you’re at it.

$1,000 refund: Think upgrades

Upgrade your water heater. It’s not a fun or sexy purchase, but swapping a standard water heater for a tankless model will save energy — and money — because it heats the water only as needed, says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a network of home improvement professionals.

Give your ceiling a lift. Ceilings are easy to overlook, but revamping yours is an inexpensive way to add interest to a room, says Sassano. “If you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a professional to scrape them smooth,” he says. “Then look for DIY projects like installing crown molding or box beams for a fresh look.” A simple coat of fresh paint can do wonders too.

$2,000 refund: Add style

Upgrade your home’s lighting. If your entryway or dining room has flush-mount fixtures, swap them out for chandeliers, suggests Roussos-Karakaian. “It brings the light down, which makes it more purposeful, and aesthetically dresses up the room,” she says. But in any room, like with this semi-flush mount bedroom fixture at 629 Ames Way, Dover, ID 83825, swapping in new lights for those builder-grade finishes will give your home a customized look. And while you’re at it, swap out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs. “LEDs are really affordable right now. They come in warm and cool colors and all sorts of wattages,” says Roussos-Karakaian. Bonus: You’ll save energy too.

Treat yourself to wood flooring. You can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $12 per square foot for quality hardwood flooring — potentially more if you choose professional installation. But this favorite home upgrade can return 1.5 to two times its cost when you sell, so it’s a worthy investment.

Build a deck or enhance the one you have. Of course, the cost of your deck will vary based on size and details, but a small deck typically costs about $2,000. And it’s a favorite feature for homebuyers — by far the most common amenity mentioned in Trulia listings across the U.S., with 22 states claiming it. It’s not a huge surprise that decks are so popular, though, considering they bring in an 80% to 120% return on your investment.

$3,000 refund: Add features with ROI in mind

Add a backsplash to your kitchen.Kitchen upgrades often have some of the highest returns on investment when it comes to home improvements. If you have neutral cabinets and floors, opt for tiles with big, bold prints, like the backsplash of the kitchen at 5769 Adair Lane, Plano, TX 75024, says Roussos-Karakaian. Or go super-DIY and buy peel-and-stick backsplash tiles, which are inexpensive and removable, but look luxe.

Splurge on French doors. “Consider turning two [adjacent] windows into an opening for beautiful French or sliding glass doors,” says Sassano. “Full-view glass doors can brighten up any space and help bring the outside in. And modern doors are energy-efficient, which cuts down on heating and cooling costs.”

$5,000 refund: Go big with projects you’ll enjoy

Put up a privacy fence or replace an old one. While cost will vary depending on the size of your yard and what materials you use, a sure way to keep costs down is to avoid common mistakes. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, make sure you get the pipes marked beforehand to avoid damaging them. It’s also a good idea to have your property surveyed before you begin. Some fence installers won’t put in your fence without one! The reason? Installing your fence on what turns out to be your neighbor’s land can be an expensive error to fix. The privacy fence pictured above, at 12021 36th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98125, connects with the privacy fence of the home next door — another way to save costs.

 Create a simple outdoor kitchen. With warmer weather on the horizon for most of the nation, now’s the time to enhance your barbecue area. Keeping the essentials in one place, an outdoor kitchen gives you party access while you cook — no running back and forth from kitchen to grill. To create one, purchase a premade grill island or structure that has countertops and storage space (you can even get one with a built-in grill). Add a mini refrigerator and some outdoor furniture, and let the party begin.


Posted by Michelle Hainer on Trulia


4 Tips for Putting Your Tax Refund Back Into Your Home

Sure, you could blow your refund on a vacation or new TV. But why not reinvest in your home instead?

Are you getting a tax refund this year? The average refund is about $3,000 — enough to reinvest in your home.

Whether you’re expecting a few hundred dollars back or a few thousand, put some of it to work with these suggestions.

Pay down debts

With home prices continuing to creep upward and interest rates still remarkably low, you may have taken out a home equity loan to fund a remodeling project or two. A lot of consumers have!

Why not apply your tax refund toward this loan or pay down other debts (especially high interest debt like credit cards)?

Freshen up

Want to add a backsplash, paint a room, clean up the yard, replace your bathroom sink, or repair a leaky faucet? Go for it! Chances are, your refund will cover these types of small projects — and more.

And you’re getting a two-for-one: you’re both improving your living experience, and adding value at the same time.

Boost your energy efficiency

No matter how big or small your refund check is, there are all sorts of things you can do, at varying price points, to make your home more energy efficient — from buying energy-efficient appliances to adding extra layers of insulation.

Storm doors are just a few hundred dollars, and can be a great investment if you have an older front door. Purchasing a low-flow showerhead or installing a programmable thermostat are other affordable options.

Buy flood insurance

The federal government offers coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program at an average cost of about $700 per year. That’s a small price to pay for a problem that can be big. After all, anywhere it rains, it can flood, and your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover it. (It typically only covers damage that comes from the top down — such as rain and wind damage, but not rising water and flooding.)

Stop taking chances, and buy yourself peace of mind. Premiums vary depending on your property’s flood risk. To get an estimate in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov.

Posted by Vera Gibbons on Zillow

6 Most Cost-Effective Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund on Your Home

If you happen to get a tax refund check from your state government or Uncle Sam, you have a great opportunity to invest it in home improvements and increase the equity in your home.

6 Most Cost Effective Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund on Your Home

To find those projects that give the most bang for your buck, we checked the 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value report, a collaboration between several research teams including REALTOR Magazine and the National Association of REALTORS® that compares the average cost and resale value of 35 popular remodeling projects across 101 American cities. Here are its findings:

1. Replace the Front Door

Adding a sleek-looking, new front door can boost your home’s curb appeal as well as improve its insulation while toughening up its security. Buying and installing a new steel entry door costs $1,162 and has a return-on-investment (ROI) of 96.6%.

2. Add a Deck

Deck additions now have the best ROI since 2007. A 16-by-20-foot wood deck addition will run you about $9,540 but will return about 87.4% of its cost after resale. If you already have a deck, you could add some extras, such as an outdoor fireplace.

3. Add a Bed and Bath to Your Attic

An extra bedroom can substantially increase your home’s value. So while it’s not cheap—turning an attic into a 15-by-15-foot bedroom with a 5-by-7-foot bathroom with shower will cost, on average, about $49,400—you can expect a decent ROI of 84%. If you choose to forgo the bathroom, the job will be cheaper but the ROI may not be as high, since there is value in not having to go downstairs for a bathroom (The report doesn’t offer a cost vs. value analysis without it).

4. Replace the Garage Door

Replacing that rickety garage door with a smooth-moving, modernized one is an inexpensive addition with an average cost of about $1,530 and an estimated ROI of 83.7%. While the garage might not rank high on your list of things to fix, remember that more than three out of every four homebuyers purchase a home with a garage.

5. Tweak Your Kitchen

Kitchen remodeling is predicted to be the most common renovation that homemakers will decide to make in 2014. However, you don’t need to do a full-blown kitchen redo for a solid investment. Leave the old cabinets but replace the doors and drawers; pop in some new energy-efficient appliances; and install a new, modestly priced sink. Replace old countertops, touch up the paint and fix cracked flooring. The cost for this type of mid-range remodeling is $18,856, and is estimated to have an ROI of 82.7%.

6. Replace Windows

Not only can replacing windows earn a solid ROI, you can also cut down on your heating and cooling bills and earn energy tax credits with energy-efficient models. The cost to replace 10 standard windows with insulated wood replacements is about $10,900, with a 79.3% ROI, according to the Cost Vs. Value report. If you’re going with vinyl windows, the job will cost about $9,980 and has an estimated ROI of 78.7%.

This article was originally published by Angela Colley on Realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.