In a recent interview, Neil Parsons, owner of Design Build Planners, was asked the following questions about basic home improvement projects that may be achieved for less than $1,000. Q: For homeowners looking to make home improvement upgrades, but only have a $1,000 budget, which areas of the home should they focus on? Why? A: First, I believe that all homeowners should have a list of projects that need to be done. As we all have learned, anything committed in writing is more likely to get done. The list should be broken in two categories: things that need to be done and things than you want to have done. For example, you need to address a leaking faucet or pipe but, you want to change a kitchen countertop. I always suggest completing the needs before the wants for many reasons. One reason is goal setting. People will want to get through the needs as quick as possible to be able to start on the wants. Q: What type of updates can you do in the kitchen for $1,000 or less? A: Modest kitchen projects for consideration are under cabinet lighting or new cabinet door and drawer knobs/pulls or pull out accessories to be installed in existing cabinets for more and better storage or perhaps an instant-hot spout at your sink. Q: What type of updates can you do in the bathroom for $1,000 or less? A: A new vanity, mirror, and light or possibly a sun tunnel to add more natural light would make for a nice facelift in a bathroom. Q: What type of updates can you do in the bedroom for $1,000 or less? A: For a bedroom update I often suggest adding recessed lighting on a dimmer switch with a center ceiling fan. Another nice improvement is a simple drawer/shelf/pole organizing system for a closet. Q: What type of updates can you do in the living room for $1,000 or less? A: A nice update for a living room is ceiling crown and chair rail molding. Then repaint the room, possibly utilizing different tones for the walls above and below the chair rail molding. Q: What can a homeowner do to the exterior or other areas of their home for $1,000 or less? A: An elegant, new entry door can provide both style and function as an improvement. It adds good curb appeal and makes a great first impression to visitors. Other miscellaneous projects to consider: attic insulation, solar attic fan, weather stripping and caulking for windows/doors, ceiling hooks and shelves for suspend garage storage. Q: When working with a smaller budget, should homeowners expect to have to sacrifice quality for price? Why or why not? A: Opting for lowered quality, in either material or labor, just to stay under budget is rarely a smart decision. All consumers, for any purchase, should seek to obtain good value for their investment. Regarding home improvements, value is typically measured as performance over time or how long does the project last. I sometimes offer this analogy: “If you purchased a used car for half the price of a new car the upfront savings is attractive. However, if that car need regular repair and lasted less than half the time of the new car, the overall expense is actually greater." Q: Any other tips on how to get the most bang for your (home improvement) buck, when working with a small budget? A: Always have a plan to be doing some type of home improvement, even if only small ones, on a regular basis. This way the improvements become a habit, your home stays in better overall condition, and your home purchase investment is better protected. Plus, this helps avoid the big, unplanned emergency repair that occur as a result of neglect or lack of maintenance. I also advise homeowners to have a long-term plan of bigger projects that want to tackle over time. Having this plan or vision will help avoid paying for smaller projects now that may soon be discarded if it doesn't mesh well with the anticipated, bigger project. So they may be able to hold off on the smaller project or make decisions that will double as a phase of the bigger improvement. Along with that thought process, we often help homeowners plan the big project with realistic phases so they can “pay as they go,” if the funds or finance options are not available for the large home improvement.