Sliding Barn Doors for Beginners

The cottage look has become a huge trend for homeowners, especially those with older homes that have lost a lot of their original charm to generic remodels over generations. One of the big elements of this new wave in design is the sliding barn door, a simple door mounted on a track that slides to cover a doorway. It’s not a fancy invention, nor is it a new one, so why are they getting so much attention all of a sudden?

The Sliding Barn Door Aesthetic

Sliding barn doors add a ton of cottage chic to a home, especially one that’s already boasting pre-modern features like custom hand-built kitchen cabinetry, built-in storage, and unusual spaces. The sliding barn door is a simple but elegant touch. It’s literally just a door built from wooden slats, just like you’d see on an old-fashioned barn on a farm. That rugged, simple look complements a lot of different styles, especially considering the many different kinds of materials that can be used to achieve the final result.

Considerations Before Installing Sliding Barn Doors

There are many things to consider before you choose sliding barn doors for your home. The first, and most important, is whether or not a barn door actually makes sense with the rest of your design. If you’re literally choosing a barn door because they’re trending right now, that’s about the worst possible reason to make the call. Instead, ask yourself if you really like the cottage chic look, and if you do, if it makes sense with the other design choices you’re making in your home. Although some purists may argue that there’s absolutely no place for a cottage look in a modern home, most designers would agree that the most important thing is consistency. After all, a lot of homes built in the last 40 or so years don’t really have a strong aesthetic of their own, which leaves a lot of room for creative minds to wander.

If you do decide you want to go with a barn door, and it’s consistent with the styling of your home, keep these additional things in mind while choosing the door and where it will be installed:

  • Barn doors don’t insulate well. Because barn doors hang on a sliding track, rather than sealing shut, there’s more air, light, and sound infiltration around them. This is fine for a lot of uses, but may make them a poor choice for spaces like bedrooms or bathrooms where you’d like more privacy. If you have pets, for safety’s sake, choose a door and hardware that are heavy enough to keep the bottom of the door from being shoved forward to allow a smart dog or cat to open these doors from the bottom.
  • They do save a ton of space. Even though they’re not the greatest doors for insulation, barn doors can save a ton of space that a regular door will require to swing. Instead of losing a whole wall to opening a door, you can instead move the furniture a few inches off the wall to allow the barn door to slide behind. Unlike pocket doors, you don’t need to tear out a wall to install a barn door; you simply run along the outer wall. This can also help minimize the impact of doors that cover water closets and pantries.
  • Planning is important. Before you decide that you absolutely must have a barn door, look very carefully at the space where you think it should go. Remember, the door will need room to move along a track, so there must be room on both sides of the door opening (at least enough to allow for the hardware), and no elements that stick out of the wall. If you’ve got a flat light switch or outlet that will end up under the door, consider how that will affect your ability to use the electricity in the room.

Ready for That New Barn Door?

Whether you’ve decided that a barn door is absolutely a necessity in your home, or you simply want a second opinion before you dive in, your HomeKeepr community has the experts to help steer you right. Whether you need an interior designer or a general contractor, HomeKeepr can help you find the barn door experts you need.

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First appeared at https://tinyurl.com/r468kxmm

Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Pet Friendly

Pets play a large part in many families. While these fuzzy (and sometimes not-so-fuzzy) friends can bring a lot of fun and companionship, keeping pets happy and healthy can take a lot of work as well. One way to keep this under control is to improve the overall pet-friendliness of your home. Much like babyproofing before bringing home a new child helps to prevent accidents and other problems, putting in some time to make your home more pet friendly now will save a lot of headaches and other issues down the line.

Pet-Friendly Homes

There are a few different concerns you should consider when trying to come up with ways to make your home more pet friendly. Think about whether there are any areas of the home that your pet might get hurt or sick if they get into. Do you have a pet that’s likely to chew on things? Stop to consider what those things it chews on are made of. Take an inventory of all the things that you don’t want your pet to damage or break; how many of them can’t be replaced?

As you can see, pet friendliness includes more than just restricting access to certain parts of the home. A truly pet-friendly home is one that will keep your pet safe in many ways while also protecting important items from your pets. There are a few different ways to go about this, of course, and there is no one right answer when it comes to how you should approach making your home more pet friendly.

Common Pet-Proofing Techniques

The way that you approach pet proofing and making your home more pet friendly will depend in large part on how your home is designed and decorated. With that said, here are a few ideas to serve as starting points for your pet-friendly revamp.

  • Check the interior of your home for peeling paint or similar problems, especially if you have an older home. Some paints contain materials that could be toxic for pets, so removing peeling paint areas and giving everything a fresh coat of pet-safe paint can help to keep your companions safe.
  • Secure potentially dangerous areas like stairwells, fireplaces, and crawlspace access points. Replace rusted or loose coverings to make sure that they can’t be pulled back or shaken free by a determined pet. Then install baby gates or other barriers as needed which will allow you to get through but prevent passage by those without opposable thumbs.
  • Lock up cleaners and other chemicals where your pets can’t access them. Some scented cleaners may smell like food to pets, and even non-toxic chemicals can still make pets sick or cause other problems if ingested. If you have medications in the home, they should be locked up similarly.
  • Get a trash can with a sturdy lid, preferably one that can be operated hands free. This will not only keep trash from being spread out in your home but can also keep pets from eating things that they really shouldn’t.

Of course, this is just the start of ways to secure your home and make it safe for your pets. Regardless of the specifics, though, the end goal is to make sure that there are fewer things within reach of your pets that could potentially cause them harm.

Pet-Friendly Remodeling

In some cases, more extensive work might be required for your home to be truly pet friendly. Stop and consider whether any changes need to be made to your home’s layout to eliminate hazards or otherwise protect your pets and keep them out of places they don’t need to be. You should also talk to contractors, landscapers, and others to make sure that you’re choosing pet-friendly materials and plants for your home.

If you need to do some remodeling but want to make sure that it’s as pet friendly as possible, HomeKeepr can help. Sign up for a free account today to find contractors and other pros who not only know their business but know how to make your home safe for your pets as well.

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Blog originally appeared at https://tinyurl.com/2sywwf8h

Drop Ceilings: Pros and Cons

Humans have long had a love/hate relationship with ceilings. On one hand, they help to hide the structure that keeps the rain out; on the other, they can be a pain to install and maintain over time. So when the idea of the drop ceiling started gaining momentum, it followed that two very die-hard camps formed almost immediately. But drop ceilings have changed dramatically since the first patents were introduced in 1919 and subsequent improvements made in the 30s and 50s. Today’s drop ceiling, while building on these same principles, is a very different creature.

Drop Ceilings Aren’t Just for Offices

Most people get their first exposure to drop ceilings in their office or schools, where two foot by four foot styrofoam rectangles are set in a grid, along with harsh fluorescent lights, in place of a more traditional plastered or drywalled ceiling. Because these drop ceilings can be very severe in appearance, the very phrase has become suspect. But there are other drop ceilings that aren’t quite so industrial, and can actually really add to your home’s design and unique interior space. These may mimic stamped tin ceilings, coffered ceilings, or a number of different kinds of decorative wood patterns like beadboard. You may not even recognize a modern drop ceiling simply from looking at it, and that’s really the point.

Pros and Cons of Drop Ceilings

Looks aside, drop ceilings are not for everyone. They aren’t even for every kind of space, contrary to what some people may believe. It also really depends on the installation style you’re working with whether or not a drop ceiling in question is going to be the best choice for your home. But in general you can expect the following truths about drop ceilings.

  • They’re simple to install. Drop ceilings are popular with a lot of DIYers because they’re easy to install and don’t require expert drywall skills to get a good result. Unlike drywall, which must be hung, the joints sealed, sanded, primered, painted, and painted again, a drop ceiling comes as a kit and is put together much more like flat-packed furniture. Follow the instructions and you should have the ceiling you expect.
  • Maintenance is minimal. Drywall and plaster crack, it’s a fact. It’s also a reason a lot of older homes have newer drop ceilings installed over the originals. Regular patching of ceilings as a home ages and shifts ever so slightly is a headache. Styrofoam ceiling panels have much more give and can flex as a house moves. Bonus points for areas like basements where wood may shrink and swell throughout the year.
  • They provide small amounts of insulation. Depending on how a drop ceiling is hung and what type you choose, you can expect a very small amount of insulation gain from them, as well as noise dampening. They’ve been used in homes with tall ceilings successfully to lower the heated envelope of the home from 10 feet to a more energy efficient seven to eight feet across the country, but by doing this, you can also interfere with the way the home’s air exchange was designed to work. Take caution when dropping ceilings dramatically.
  • Head space is reduced. Even when you’re using a drop ceiling in a very minimalistic way, there’s going to be loss of headroom. This is because drop ceilings generally have to be hung on special brackets or dropped within a hanging framework. You may not lose a lot of headspace, possibly only inches, but in areas like basements where inches can be too much loss, it’s a serious consideration.
  • Lighting solutions can be tricky. You’ll need to plan your lighting carefully when installing a drop ceiling. Because of the gap that tends to be present, even if it’s just a few inches worth, mounting lighting can require a great deal of planning and care. You may have to use special supports or choose different lighting types when you change a ceiling to a drop ceiling, or carefully design lighting if adding a drop ceiling to an area that’s never had a ceiling in it before.

Having Trouble Deciding?

If you don’t know what way to go with your future ceiling, you don’t have to go it alone. Just look in HomeKeepr for a recommendation for ceiling and interior design experts in your area. They can walk through your home with you, and help you choose the best option for your house, your budget, and your lifestyle.

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

Originally posted https://tinyurl.com/3f787hdh

Make Spring Cleaning Easy with Built-In Storage

It might be a bit on the chilly side now, but it’s not going to be long before spring cleaning season is upon us again. It’s a great way to refresh spaces and toss out that stuff that’s just been collecting with no real purpose. But what do you do with the stuff you DO want to keep? Maybe you need some more storage spaces!

These days, there are tons of prefabricated kits that can help you turn your home into an organizational powerhouse, as well as plenty of small projects that you can do over a weekend to prepare for the inevitable. If you start building your future storage now, you’ll be totally ready for sorting and putting away when the grass starts to green again.

Built-In Storage Kits

You don’t have to be Bob Villa to install any of the many basic storage systems that are available through big box storages and home improvement centers across the country. Some are designed with specific kinds of storage in mind, like closet systems that help you make more room out of nothing at all. Other systems are designed to be extra sturdy for more challenging spaces, like garages or utility rooms. These out of the box systems are a great way to add built-in storage, even if you’re not particularly handy. They often feature pre-cut pieces with just a few fasteners you’ll need to insert into the wall, along with step-by-step instructions to help you succeed.

But if you’re feeling up to it, don’t hesitate to pick up add-on parts for those systems, or go off the map entirely and use them in unexpected places, like under stairs, in mudrooms, and in other odd spaces in your house. Every nook can become mega storage if you have the right kind of system to install there.

Building From Scratch

If you’re a little braver, or have some experience with home repairs, you may want to take a serious look at spaces like garage ceilings, wall voids, rafters, and attic knee walls for room you can reclaim. Ensure there’s no electrical wire or plumbing running in the space you have your eye on for extra storage, though. Skipping this step can lead to some serious repercussions, including, but not limited to, electrocution and pipe ruptures.

However, with a careful hand, you can take those formerly useless stretches of wall or ceiling and add things like built-in bookcases, cabinets, and drawers. Remember that your built-in can only be as deep as the void, minus the thickness of the back materials, so choose your spaces accordingly. Attic knee walls are especially fun options, since there are usually deep voids behind them that you can transform into your storage fantasies.

Some Special Options for Kitchens

Kitchens are notorious for lacking storage or working space, but they also offer a lot of small spaces that most people tend to overlook. For example, if you have a lot of mugs or tea cups, the simple act of installing mug hooks under your upper cabinets can permanently free up shelf space. The inside of your cabinets can host shallow storage racks, which are great for holding cleaning supplies, spices, and other small items.

Another option might be adding a rail to your backsplash, enabling you to hang up items that tend to end up scattered in the kitchen. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually know where the potholders are at any given time? You can do the same thing with pegboards or heavy duty metal sheets you can attach pots, pans, utensils, and the like to with magnetic hooks.

Need Help With Your Storage Projects?

Sometimes, you can be long on ideas for new storage, but short on the skill or time to execute them. That’s where your friendly HomeKeepr community comes into play! Whether you want to simply change out the system in your closet, or you plan to add a whole bunch of built-in bookcases in your living room, you’ll find a highly recommended professional to help get the job done.

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Blog originally appears here: https://tinyurl.com/5y4nh3ut

Do You Need a Water Leak Detector?

Leaks in your home can be a major problem. This is especially the case if leaks occur while you’re away from home or happen in places that you can’t easily access. While some leaks can be prevented before they happen with proper maintenance, there’s always the possibility that you’ll have a leak even if you keep your sinks and pipes in good shape. So what can you do?

One option is to have a water leak detector that can pick up on the leak when it occurs. If you’ve never heard of these or aren’t sure how they work, here are the basics. You might find that a water leak detector is just what you need to give yourself a bit more peace of mind when it comes to your home’s plumbing.

What Is a Water Leak Detector?

As the name suggests, a water leak detector is a device that can detect water leaks in your home. There are a few different types of detectors out there, but they all provide the same basic function of keeping your home safe in case leaks occur. They do this by not only detecting the leaks, but also by doing something about them when they find one.
Modern water leak detectors include both sensors to identify leaks and valves that are built into your home’s plumbing. The central detector unit closes the valves when the sensor detects something is amiss, preventing the flow of water and stopping the leak until it can be repaired. Many detectors also provide you with some sort of alert when this occurs, with some models working in concert with smart home devices to send a notice to your phone and even perform other actions like turning on lights in the affected area.

Types of Leak Detectors

There are a few different types of water leak detectors that you can install in your home. The most common ones feature moisture sensors, allowing them to trigger the system if an area that’s supposed to be dry suddenly has an increase in moisture. In-line sensors can determine when changes in water pressure occur, with abnormal pressure readings suggesting that water is escaping the line and that a leak has sprung somewhere. Temperature sensors can detect frozen pipes, helping you to reduce pressure before those pipes burst. Some leak detectors even use acoustic sensors to listen for the sound of leaks or running water; this can be especially useful in crawl spaces or slabs where it might be difficult to find leaks using other sensor types.

Regardless of the type of sensors you have in your home, the core unit of your water leak detector will determine how big of an installation job is required. Basic detectors can send alerts to your phone or sound an audible alarm but take no other action beyond that; these can often be installed as DIY projects and provide basic protection against leaks. Larger systems that use in-line sensors and have the ability to shut off the water automatically are much more complicated and typically require professional installation, but they also provide much better protection and more sensor options as well.

Do You Need a Water Leak Detector?

Deciding whether you need a water leak detector and what type you might want comes down to a few factors. The most obvious is how much of a risk you think leaks are in your home. If you’ve got old plumbing or are worried about leaks in hard-to-reach places, you’re more likely to want a leak detector than someone who just moved into new construction with easily accessible pipes. The type of detector you get also comes down to a matter of personal preference, since some people would prefer simple alerts while others like fully automated responses.

Regardless of the type of water leak detector you want, HomeKeepr is here to help you find someone to install it and answer any questions you might have. Sign up for a free account today to find pros who can hook you up with the leak detector that best meets your needs and your preferences.

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

Original Blog posted here: https://tinyurl.com/5dh7dygm

Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved? What’s the Difference?

There’s a lot to learn when you’re starting out on your home buying journey. From concepts like earnest money to closing costs, it’s a lot to take in during a very short period. But of all the things to know, understanding the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved for your mortgage is one of the most important.

Why Your Mortgage Application Status Matters

It’s always been a good idea to bring a strong offer to the negotiating table when it comes to real estate, but it’s even more vital when the market is short on inventory and long on buyers. If you’re in a multiple offer situation (and sometimes, even if you’re not), the sellers are going to weigh the various offers they receive to decide if they think your offer is enough to bring in what they need to sell their home, as well as considering how strong an offer it is.

A strong offer is one that has a lot of the obstacles already removed. For example, if you need to sell your house before you can close on the one you’re making an offer on, this might be considered a weak offer for some sellers. A weak offer doesn’t mean a bad offer, necessarily; it’s simply an offer that looks like it could be tricky to actually get to the closing table. The risk versus reward is too high. This is why having the right kind of mortgage application status plays in your favor when it comes to negotiation.

Mortgage Pre-Qualification Versus Mortgage Pre-Approval

When you meet with a lender for the first time, they generally ask some probing questions about your income and assets, as well as your expenses and credit file. They’re not just being nosy; that lender is trying to help figure out just how much home you can qualify for and what programs might be best for your financial picture. Sometimes, these lenders will send you elsewhere because their banks or partner lending institutions simply can’t help you, but in a lot of cases they’ll produce something called a pre-qualification letter.

Pre-qualification goes largely by your word about your income and expenses, and is not a promise to lend. It’s simply a hypothetical among a list of hypotheticals. If you do in fact make this much money, your credit is as assumed, the house you choose lines up with these guidelines, and rates don’t change dramatically, you should be able to buy this much house. You can see how that would be a bit dodgy for a seller to hang all their hopes on.

A pre-approval, on the other hand, shows that you’ve gone through the additional steps to reach the highest level of mortgage approval you can get without actually having a house secured (the house you choose also figures into the final approval, but just how it figures depends on the loan program). For a pre-approval, you’ll need to provide income documents, permission for the lender to pull a full credit report, and details on any assets or liabilities you hold that aren’t included in your credit file.

A pre-approval isn’t instant; it requires more review, and you’ll need to choose a lending program to be approved for. However, doing all this extra work shows potential sellers that you’re already putting in a lot of effort to ensure you can actually close when the day comes, and that you’re eager to move the process along as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of buyer a seller wants to see!

Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

It doesn’t have to be tough, especially when you look in your HomeKeepr community for recommendations for the very best lenders in your area. These mortgage professionals can ease the paperwork burden and help streamline your pre-approval so you’re more than ready to make an offer on a home that you’ll love for years to come.

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

Originally posted at: https://tinyurl.com/39strz5r

NEWS ALERT: HUD to Protect LGBTQ+ Community from Housing Discrimination

Amazing announcement from Ryan A.H. Weyandt regarding the NEWS announced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)


Dear LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members, partners, and friends,

I am thrilled to let you know that earlier today I represented The Alliance on a stakeholder briefing call hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House that preceded an announcement (https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_21_021) that HUD will enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Essentially, HUD is recognizing that housing discrimination based on sex also protects gender identity and sexual orientation. HUD will now accept and investigate discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and enforce the Fair Housing Act where it finds discrimination occurred. I specifically clarified that this will be a joint exercise that includes the Justice Department, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).

It was an incredible reversal of what we saw from the last administration and is yet another wonderful example of how President Biden is walking the walk in supporting our community and providing us with the protections we rightly deserve.

Today’s call included leaders from NAR, various Federal agencies, LGBTQ+ activist groups and non-profits, and others considered critical to the discussion about Fair Housing and the LGBTQ+ community. I hope you take great pride in knowing that in just a few short months, The Alliance is already seen as having a critical role in the housing industry.

While we have a long way to go and are eagerly awaiting the Equality Act returning to the forefront, I hope you will join in my excitement about what today’s announcement means for our industry and community. Congratulations!

Yours in pride,

Ryan A.H. Weyandt
CEO
LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance

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Watch for These Signs of Unwelcome Visitors

Having a pest infestation is no fun, but it’s not an uncommon problem for a homeowner to experience, especially in transition times like from fall to winter or from winter into spring. Many pests come indoors seeking warmth from bitter temperatures in the late fall, stow away all winter, and then become active again as spring sets in. Others come indoors and remain active throughout their occupancy. In older homes, especially, it can be tricky to decide if you’ve got a pest problem or just a creaky old house and an active imagination, but it’s easier when you know some of the most common signs of pests.

Common Signs of Household Pests

Because there are armloads of different sorts of pests that can occupy a house at any given time, it’s impossible to list all the signs and symptoms you might notice, but this list should get you started with the most common pest animals in homes.

Staining
Staining on ceilings or walls can be a strong sign that you’ve got an insect colony setting up shop. Often bees, wasps, or even ladybugs will take up residence in voids in wall or attic spaces. If you hear buzzing, do not attempt to exorcise your insect pests without the help of a professional. Mammals and birds can also leave staining, depending on where they’ve built nests.

Scratching Sounds
Rodents love to get into the voids in walls, under cabinets, and in all those dark places in your home. They use these openings like little highways to get safely from their nests to food sources and back. While they’re at it, you may hear them in the walls, scratching, scraping, even gnawing.

Unusual Smells
A lot of pests give off distinctive odors that aren’t normally associated with homes. If you’re shopping for a house and notice a smell that’s “off,” don’t automatically assume it’s full of mold. There may simply be a pest infestation that can be far more easily remedied. The same goes for your own house; if someone mentions a smell you’ve not noticed because you live there all the time, ask for more details to help figure out what’s bugging you.

Holes or Gnaw Marks
Holes and gnaw marks can come from any sort of creature that would nest in your home. You don’t always get staining, depending on where the nest is; sometimes you only get a good view of the front door. Wood-consuming beetles like powderpost beetles, for example, will drill tiny holes in hardwood flooring and other wooden trim pieces. Mice, of course, will also chew through wood and other materials to better facilitate their successful lives in your home.

Nests
If you find an actual nest, or nest material, this is a great sign you’ve got an issue and one you can’t ignore. Rodents tend to chew up paper or other thin materials like plastic bags to create their nests, but waxy secretions might be the sort of nest material you’d find for bees, or leaves, mud, and grasses for birds that often nest in chimneys and attics. Whatever the nesting material, make sure to collect some for further evaluation.

Who You Gonna Call?

Well, first, you should probably touch base with your HomeKeepr community if you see signs of pest infestations in your home. While a homeowner can often handle simple pest control tasks like setting mouse traps, more severe infestations require more skilled experts. Bees, for example, should never be handled by anyone short of an experienced bee keeper or pest control expert because they can be very, very dangerous. Other pests, like bats, are often protected by local and federal laws, so knowing how to handle them is very important.

But don’t worry. Whatever kind of pests you’re dealing with, there’s a pest control expert in your community who can help you handle it. Just look for a recommendation in HomeKeepr and before you know it, you’ll be free of those unwanted squatters.

#WinWithVin #KWMerrimackValley

5 Remodels That Make Good Resale Value Sense — and 5 That Don’t

Matt Clawson – Houzz contributor. Realtor, Home builder, project consultant, and writer. Loves sensible style.

Repeat after me: I am the master of my remodel. Perhaps you should say it again, because sadly, it’s not always so. Remodels sometimes have a tendency to develop their own inertia, as decisions lead to new dilemmas, unintended consequences and surprising outcomes. In some cases, these flights of fancy are perfectly acceptable, provided the design and completed execution truly align with the vision and budget.

But if your budget is a concern, and the wise investment of limited home improvement dollars matters, then there are a few basic guidelines you should familiarize yourself with before planning your remodel. Today we review five remodels that typically make good financial sense, providing a nice return on the investment at the time of resale — and five that don’t.

Positive contributors to good resale value

Kitchens
Adding living space
Curb appeal
Master suites
Bathroom

Negative contributors to good resale value

Kids’ spaces
Pools
Wine rooms
Removing features
Minor additions

For details from the full article, please see the reposting of it here:
https://www.houzz.com/magazine/5-remodels-that-make-good-resale-value-sense-and-5-that-dont-stsetivw-vs~48158905

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6 Coronavirus-Friendly Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $10K—and Will Bring In Offers

By Kathleen Willcox | Jan 22, 2021

Getting a home improvement project to pay off is notoriously tricky. There’s no guarantee you’ll recoup the money you pour into a bathroom remodel or an outdoor kitchen. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has made completing even minor projects more difficult, as many nonessential construction projects have been halted.

And while it might seem crazy to take on a big-ticket project in a time of economic uncertainty, many home buyers are still looking for turnkey properties with attractive amenities. So if you’re a seller with a house in need of a little TLC, you should focus on relatively low-budget upgrades that will seriously juice your home’s value.

Below, our experts spill on the improvements under $10,000 that buyers are perennially interested in, plus the trending ones whose popularity is likely to last.

Deep cleaning: $500 or less

Scuffs on doors, counters, cabinets, and walls; a ring of scum around a drain; cobwebs in basement corners; toys or tools peppering lawns and patios—these all look bad in the eyes of potential buyers. Luckily, eradicating these blemishes doesn’t take much.

“Deep cleaning is one of the most important things you can do for a little money that dramatically increases your value in the market,” says Heather Wendlandt, a real estate agent with the San Diego-based Team Kolker. “The Magic Eraser and elbow grease can go a long way.”https://www.realtor.com/myhome/sellwidget

She says deep cleaning, plus basic paint touch-ups, can increase home values by thousands.

Front-door upgrade: $2,000 or less

Thee front door is the first part of a home that a potential buyer will interact with, so it’s worth lavishing attention on every detail. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or updated accessories like house numbers, door knockers, and attractive lighting are all easy and relatively inexpensive to obtain.

Wilmington, NC–based real estate agent-turned-blogger Rebecca Fernandez says that when she was given a listing that sat on the market without activity for months, a front-door upgrade helped make a difference.

Watch: 5 Smart Upgrades To Help Coronavirus-Proof Your Home

(Watch the video on the original blog at REALTOR.COM:

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“I convinced the homeowners to provide me with a budget of $500,” Fernandez says. “It was a very small Cape Cod home, painted dark beige, with an unflattering wood front door. To add contrast, I purchased black vinyl shutters and painted the door a dark red. Next, we cleaned up the front lawn and purchased a door mat, flowerpots, and mums, since it was autumn, and we wanted it to have a fresh, seasonal look. After those minor tweaks, with new pictures online and the added curb appeal, we drew multiple buyers and sold the property quickly.”

Touchless fixtures and fresh-air systems: $200 to $5,000

During the pandemic, certain fixtures have become more relevant—and coveted—than ever.

What buyers want right now are touchless fixtures like sinks and toilets that eliminate your need to come into contact with a germ-filled surface, says Scott Campbell, team leader at Cedarburg, WI’s Re/Max. Both of these upgrades cost a few hundred dollars to install around the house.

Another pandemic must-have is excellent airflow.

“Updating mechanical systems and adding a RenewAire system that pulls fresh air into the home every few hours is a huge plus for buyers,” Campbell says. “Ultraviolet air exchanges that help kill viruses are also smart investments and very practical for home showings during the pandemic.”

Better kitchens and bathrooms: $9,000 or less

Kitchens and bathrooms that look outdated or cheap can sink the value of an entire home.

Tracy Jones, an associate with Re/Max Platinum Realty, witnessed firsthand how a kitchen face-lift boosted her home’s value.

“During the years we’ve done some hefty renos, but resurfacing our kitchen cabinets cost less than $4,000. We replaced the cheap-looking plywood cabinets with white doors and custom-built drawer fronts with soft-pull hardware,” she says. “We also upgraded the 1990s Formica countertops with granite for $4,000, creating a modern look.”

Jones believes these upgrades helped them bring in a profit. They bought the home for $189,000 in 2006 and sold it for $425,000 in 2020.

Bathrooms can also make or break a deal.

Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers in Chattanooga, TN, says he helped renovate and flip a home that cost him $80,000 and was sold for $140,000. Of the $15,000 he invested in home improvement, Wright put $9,000 toward upgrades on the kitchen and bathroom, including light fixtures, new cabinets and counters, fresh towels, and new vanities and faucets. All told, he cleared $45,000, primarily through minor tweaks.

Backyard upgrades: $500 to $10,000

Backyards are now thought of as an extension of the home.

“For those in the suburbs, pools, koi ponds, and fountains are newfound hot-selling items,” says Neal Clayton, licensed partner at Engel & Völkers in Nashville, TN. A small water feature that makes a soothing impression can be purchased and installed for as little as $500.

“Fire pits and outdoor kitchens with basic cabinetry are also frequently requested as people find creative ways to expand their living spaces,” Clayton says.

Home office: $10,000 or less

Home offices were on their way out before the pandemic, but they are all the rage now. Converting a room and buying all of the furniture, accoutrements, and shelving cost well under $10,000, experts say.

If you’re on the fence about carving out a home office space, consider this: Many buyers won’t consider a home these days if it doesn’t have a place where working or schooling from home is feasible. Looking to sell your home? Claim your home and get info on your home’s value. Kathleen Willcox is a journalist who writes about real estate, travel, and food and wine. She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY. Follow @@SustainableKWThe realtor.com® editorial team highlights a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a commission.