Everyone knows the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses,” referring to our obsession with outdoing- or at least matching- our neighbors’ success. One in five Americans admits to doing a home improvement project just to one-up those next door. Studies also found that 34 percent of all home improvements are only done to keep up with or impress a friend, family member, or neighbor; spending on average $3,558.

Is your home the neighborhood slacker? Have you lived there for years without making many improvements, there’s a good chance your house is starting to fall out of sync with others on your block.

Bring your home up to speed doesn’t mean a massive, six figure renovation. Small-scale projects that address some typical flaws of older homes can do double duty: they’ll make your home more attractive when it’s time to sell, and turn into a more comfortable place for you to live.

These type of upgrade cost $5,000 or less.

Expand your closets.

Homes built before the mid-1970s often share a frustrating problem: nowhere to put stuff. Small, one-rod closets are a prime offender and a big turnoff for buyers and the cause of organization. Make the most of spaces by installing on organizing system equipped with additional rods, shelves, baskets, and more.
Look for places to add closet or other storage area. Building a closet into the existing footprint of a room usually costs less than $2,000. If you have a bedroom with a centered window, maybe installing a closet on each side and creating a window seat between them.

No extra room in the bedroom? You may be able to break through the wall into a smaller room or an unused space that can be converted into a closet. This might cost at least $2,500 if not more.

Open up the kitchen

Today kitchens serve as a favorite spot for families and guests to congregate, but that hasn’t always been the case; this room use to be where the cooking and dirty dishes were handled. This is why in older homes this room is often small and closed off. When looking to update the kitchen with new cabinets and countertop, you may want to look into removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room or living area.

Assuming there are no pipes in the walls or build new support beams, the removal will most likely add $2,000-5,000, including the cost of refinishing the affected floor, ceiling, and walls.

Some kitchens already have peninsula countertops that extend from the wall. When this area is lined with overhead cabinets, the room can still feel boxed in. Having these cupboards removed is relatively simple and should cost only $500 to $1,000. Worried about losing space? Make it up in the island, by get an island with storage on all sides and maybe enlarging the pantry bigger with storage area for cookware.

Get the laundry room out of the basement

This is a huge trend in the last few years. This being due to: inconvenience of dragging clothes up and down flights of stairs, needed clothes and having to grab them from the dryer and most women/ men getting too old to carry the baskets up and down.
You may have grown accustomed to schlepping your dirty clothes down to the depths of your home, but potential buyers won’t be so keen on the idea.

Installing a washer and dryer on even the second floor, closer to the bedrooms and bathrooms, is increasingly popular. What is the cheapest way to do this? One is to get 2 front loaders and stack them in a closet or corner, neighbors the bathroom minimizing the necessary plumbing work. Cost: about $2,500, not including the units. Let’s say you don’t like front loaders or don’t want them, another option is a small room that is not used often. You can convert this room into half a walk in closet and half a laundry room; costing a minimum of $4,000.

 

What do people tend to notice about other’s homes and what do they compare and contrast?

Weather or no the house is clean is the first thing people notice, and compare it to their own. Next they will see how cluttered the house appears is something they notice instantly, and can’t help but notice if the home smells fresh or not and one in four will notice if there’s a nice garden out front.

Most people will walk into someone’s home and, like judging a book by its cover, will judge a kitchen by its countertops. With the kitchen now being the heart of the home, it would be wise to start here when planning home improvements.

 

TOP 15 HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS PEOPLE HAVE DONE TO IMPRESS OTHERS
• Landscaping 41%
Kitchen remodel 39%
Bathroom remodel 32%
• Deck(s) 25%
• Windows/door replacement 23%
• Porch 23%
• Repairing property damage 21%
• New countertops 19%
• Room additions 19%
• Whole-house remodel 17%
• Roofing 16%
• Finish basement 15%
• Bathroom additions 14%
• Siding 12%
• Garage 11%

TOP 20 THINGS PEOPLE NOTICE ABOUT OTHER’S HOMES
• Is the house clean? 54%
• Is the place too cluttered? 39%
• Do the rooms smell fresh? 34%
• Is there a nice garden out front? 25%
• Is the place homely? 24%
• Is the temperature right/too hot/too cold? 19%
• Do they have a nice TV? 19%
• Are the bathroom countertops unclean? 19%
• Any stains/marks on the wall in the house? 19%
• Is the sofa comfy? 18%
• Is the overall décor modern/stylish? 18%
• Is the lighting at a good level? 15%
• Are there a lot of kids' toys around? 12%
• Are the countertops outdated? 12%
• Is the artwork nice or not? 11%
• Is it noisy? 11%
• Are the curtains outdated? 9%
• Are the shoes in the hallway neatly stacked? 9%
• Are the carpets hard underfoot? 8%
• Use of smart technology? 8%