Updating your home does not have to break the bank. Small projects, from installing new fixtures to roof repair, can improve the look and value of a home.


HVAC maintenance

G&S Mechanical suggested the following heating, ventilation and air conditioning system maintenance schedule:
In the spring, make sure the system is blowing cool air for summer
In the fall, check the heat is working for winter
Monthly air filter changes and checks on the system’s drain

Roof repair

Kangaroof recommended:
Looking for missing shingles which expose a home to water damage
Keeping tree limbs away from the roof so animals cannot access it
Cleaning gutters regularly
Sealing around pipes and boots, the most common areas for leaks
Checking the chimney flashing for areas where water can enter


Christianson Air Conditioning and Plumbing made suggestions on how to properly maintain a plumbing system:
Tankless water heaters should be flushed out annually
Check all toilets for wear and tear in older homes and the possibility of constant running water
Ask about pressure gauge checks; Pressure Reducing Valves are under constant high pressure and can slowly go bad and restrict flow and pressure


Modernize your kitchen or bathroom with new fixtures

Chris Siebenthaler from Wilson Plumbing, which services customers in the city of Austin, said fixture replacement is one of the best “bang-for-your-buck” plumbing projects.

“Faucet, sink and toilet replacements add a fresh new [look] to the home without breaking the bank,” he said. “Stick to name brands, and consult your plumber or showroom consultant for educated fixture recommendations.”

Siebenthaler recommended keeping all manuals and receipts for plumbing fixtures and appliances. In the future, these documents may come in handy when repairs and replacements are necessary.

Paint and upgrade cabinets

When selling homes, Isabel Affinito of JB Goodwin Realtors, which has offices throughout Austin, said she finds kitchens and bathrooms stick out the most to buyers when making decisions.

One way to freshen up the look of a kitchen or bathroom is to renovate the cabinets. She said homeowners can paint their cabinets—white is particularly popular for kitchens.

“The shape of the cabinets isn’t a problem; it’s usually the colors and the hardware,” she said.

Cheap jobs

Transform your bathtub into a stand-up shower

Converting bathtubs to showers is one of the fastest ways to create immediate value, said Josh Agrelius, the owner of bathroom renovation company Re-Bath of Austin, which serves the metro area.

“People are taking less baths,” he said. “Especially with the droughts we’ve had, people are water-conscious.”

To get started, homeowners need to research companies they may want to work with. Agrelius said they should make sure they are hiring qualified professionals, using online resources and the Better Business Bureau as resources.

“You might spend a little bit more, but it will be done the right way without cutting any corners,” Agrelius said.

Update tile to create a sanitary, safe environment

Traditionally, bathing area walls were installed with porous grout, Agrelius said. This can cause the walls of tubs or showers to become moldy from moisture.

“Here in Texas, you can’t control the heat, and [the bathing area is] a wet area,” Agrelius said. “The most effective way to control water is to eliminate the grout by installing slab-like walls.”

By using slab-like walls, including large-format tiles, stone and acrylics, homeowners can avoid the creation of a potentially toxic area, he said.

Invest in landscaping

Affinito said she recommends people selling their homes only invest in renovations that will result in more than a 100 percent return. Hiring a landscaper to add mulch and clean up the lawn for a few hours is often worth the investment in Austin.

“You don’t have to go crazy with it,” Affinito said. “It makes a huge difference to your curb appeal.”