Worth It or a Waste of Money? 6 Popular Spring Home-Renovation Projects


buildadeckYou’ve been waiting for it all winter: Now that the snow has finally melted, you’re ready to shake off that cabin fever so your inner Bob Vila can tackle some home renovations.

But don’t run to Home Depot just yet.

Whether you’re looking to spruce up your abode for personal satisfaction—or to up your home’s value for selling—we tapped two renovation experts to weigh in on just how worth it six common springtime improvement projects are, given their typically hefty price tags.

As it turns out, many of them aren’t worth the investment or headache—and in some cases, you can get the same effect by shelling out a lot less with these alternative renovation hacks.

Project #1: Landscaping

Seeing buds on the trees is inspiring—who wouldn’t want a green lawn coated with fresh blossoms?

But if you’re thinking less rosebush-by-the-fence and more front-lawn-turned-botanical-garden, your wallet can take a real hit.

“Individual plants, at $5 to $15 each, can really add up if you want to line a walkway or the front of a house,” says Harrison Wilson, co-owner of L&H Construction, which serves the greater Boston area. “Add in bark mulch and some shrubs, and you can easily spend $500 to $1,000 just on nice flower beds in your front yard.”

On top of that, “a higher-priced home might necessitate professional landscapers,” says Jerry Grodesky, managing broker at Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate in Loda, Ill. “Depending on the area’s size, that could easily start at $20,000.”

How to Get More Bang for Your Reno Buck Your home’s curb appeal isn’t necessarily a less-than-worth-it reno—just keep the big picture in mind when deciding which lawn-care moves to invest in.

“If you’re planning on selling your house, don’t waste money on things that don’t affect the property immediately—like fertilizing, planting seeds, aerating the lawn, or insect control,” Wilson says, adding that you may want to put that money toward, say, planting tulip bulbs to greet would-be buyers.

But if a move isn’t imminent, Wilson says, “don’t buy all established plants that will add up in cost, and try planting seeds for a fraction of the price.” With a little patience, you’ll eventually have that dream garden.

And don’t forget that a little bit of lawn maintenance goes a long way.

“Mowing; weeding; edging along gardens, walkways and the driveway; raking leaves; and trimming the hedges can make a huge difference,” Wilson says. “Add in a few inexpensive flowers for a little color, and you’ll have a transformed yard.”

RELATED: 7 Ways Gardening Can Save You Green

  • jerome

    My parents just had their old deck re-done. It was actually becoming dangerous in certain areas. They enjoy that space and my brothers and I grew up playing outside often. Now that everyone has grown up and has kids (well not me just yet), they all enjoy going over to my parents’ place and the kids will go out on the deck to play. For them work on the yard isn’t as much for financial purposes and to raise the value of the home as much as it is to have that space to enjoy. It was certainly expensive but it’s also a result of wealth from their retirement income, so they are enjoying life.
    I just signed a contract to have someone install a paver patio in our closed-off condo yard (400-450sq ft). Not tiny but not huge and with very difficult access getting materials in and out. I was trying to justify DIY but it would require a ton of hard labor AND likely make a mess or cause damage in the process because there’s no gate and we would have to transport everything *through* the condo (not to mention the space being relatively tight and confined to work in). The first part I don’t mind as much but it’s the second and third parts that I’d be most concerned about with excavating dirt and disposing of it, as well as bringing in a ton of pavers through the house. I can’t begin to imagine how many things could go wrong (it’s easy to assume how simple the process could be until you start doing it). For that reason alone, we felt it was worth paying a professional (and it’s definitely a high-cost project at $20-25 per sq ft ) to do all the proper excavation, drainage, and paver installation. And we’re paying for the liability of any damage too, essentially (factored in the high price).