The following is a guest post by Hank McKinsey, a stay-at-home-dad and home blogger at homebyhank.com. If you’d like to find out more about guest posting on Money Q&A, please read our Guest Posting Guidelines.
Your home is more than a just a place to live. It is a financial investment. It’s easy to forget that any home project, from changing the wall color to installing new cabinets, can alter your home’s value. Ideally, each upgrade should increase the value and make your home more marketable.
Three fun and ‘kid friendly’ projects that can add to your home’s value and help you save money are: starting a garden, updating your doors and windows, and adding a reading or office nook to a spare bedroom. It’s important to remember that although your main focus is upgrading the house, these projects will also add value to your family by teaching your children and enriching your lives. I know that home improvement projects aren’t cheap so I’ve shared some of my favorite funding options as well.
Easy Child Friendly DIY Ideas for Home Improvements
Project #1: Build and Watch Your Garden Grow
If you have the space for it, starting a garden is a great way to add value to your home. There are many people who want to garden but have no clue where to start, so finding a house on the market with an existing garden can be a pro in the decision making process.
If done properly, a garden can also save you money on your grocery bill, reduce runoff, and reduce your energy consumption. Gardening is a time intensive project that requires maintenance throughout the growing season. However, it’s also a great way to teach your kids about responsibility, environmental science, and how rewarding long-term projects can be.
Building a garden can be difficult for some; creating a raised bed garden or planting straight into the ground requires different tools and processes. There are many resources online and a quick Google search will help you get started. Also, make sure your children have a defined space to plant in the garden as well. This will help teach them responsibility and allow them to see tangible results of their gardening efforts.
My Tip: It’s important to label your garden space before you plant so you’ll be able to easily identify where each item is growing. Kids can create ‘plant cards’ with the name of each plant and a fun picture. The finished product can be a reminder of their hard work and will show them how they’ve helped with the family project.
Project #2: Updating Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are the home’s first defense against the outside elements. Poorly hung doors or old window frames will let in outside air, leading to higher heating and cooling bills. Updated windows and doors are a great feature when it comes to potential buyers, so don’t fail to consider the value of this simple renovation!
Replacing your doors and windows is a project that can be done over time, replacing one door or window at your convenience. Easier on your finances, it incrementally reduces your heating costs and increases your energy efficiency.
Once you’ve replaced a door or window, or have completed the entire updating project, you may also be able to sell the old pieces on Craigslist if they’re still in a useable condition. You can also upcycle the windows as garden beds, and the doors as table tops or work surfaces depending on their condition and wood type.
My Tip: Upgrading windows and doors is a great opportunity to teach your kids about upcycling and recycling. Between repurposing materials, selling on Craigslist, and building something for your new garden, this is a fantastic opportunity to teach your children a variety of personal skills.
Project #3: Create a Reading or Office Nook in a Spare Bedroom
If you have a plain guest room or basement that isn’t being used very often, consider this unique project. A reading or office nook will increase the marketability of your home, as rooms have ‘flexibility’ for the prospective buyer.
Creating a reading or office nook is fairly simple and only requires bookshelves, a futon or unique office chair, and a writing surface. Don’t be afraid to repurpose materials like an old door or find items on Craigslist instead of buying new. These items will add character and will save money. Inspiration can be found online through a quick image search and plans can be altered to fit almost any existing space.
Once the project is complete, the nook will provide your family with a secluded place in the home for relaxing or completing homework. This project takes a once under-utilized space and turns it into a multi-functional place to enjoy.
My Tip: If you’re building a reading nook this may be a great opportunity to help curate a family library. Get your children involved in sorting through their books for favorites and other stories they’d like to add to the collection. This may get them excited about reading and will provide the family with a great place to spend more time together doing a new activity.
Paying for Your Projects
Tip #1: Start a Blog and Write to Earn Money
Blogging can be a great way to create supplemental income without a large learning curve. Blogs are a great place to share experiences, provide resources, and earn some extra money.
Fear not- starting your blog can be fairly simple as there are many platforms available for free (or a small monthly fee) to get your blog up and running. A good way to create traffic is to provide resources and educational insight with your posts. For your renovation projects, once your blog is established and you have cultivated an engaged community, you could look into crowdfunding a home project through sites like GoFundMe.
Tip #2: Rent Your Home
If you’re going on vacation or have an extra room that is vacant, renting your space may be a good option. There are many popular rental sites like AirBnb or HomeAway that provide a place to find renters, but be sure to stay safe. I like how transparent the popular rental sites are, however they can leave out pertinent information about renters.
If you accept a renter through Craigslist, you may not receive any information at all about the person. This is a big ‘no-no’ as evicting a tenant can be difficult and costly. When preparing my home for a new tenant, I like to be extra thorough when evaluating the prospect. Regarding your renovations, you may even be able to get your renter to help out in exchange for a few bucks off rent; it’s a win-win!
Tip #3: Become a Vendor at the Farmer’s Market
This can become a great source of income especially if you have a flourishing garden. Selling your vegetables and other items will create a larger sense of community and could help fund your next home project or garden supplies. Here is a great resource for those of you looking for the necessary steps to join your local market.
Farmer’s Markets have become very popular and chances are there’s one in your neighborhood. Your local community center may have more information including how to obtain a booth, any associated costs, and the guidelines and rules for selling in the marketplace.
What do you think of these DIY ideas for home improvements? Do you have any other great DIY projects that you like to do with your kids?
Author Bio: Hank is a SAHD from Clovis, CA and loves the challenge of a fixer-upper. DIY projects and the smell of fresh cut grass are what get him out of bed in the morning. Follow along his journey: @homebyhank