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5 Tips to Your Home Improvement Sweet Spots

Man and woman planning do-it-yourself home improvement project

Your home is your castle, your refuge and—let’s face it—a place where it can be very easy to sink a big chunk of money. Which is why you’re always on the lookout for “sweet spots”:  those home improvements that add comfort, safety or a little zing of style while you’re living in your house and will boost the asking price when it’s time to sell. And if you can find a way to save money on those improvements or cut home expenses at the same time, well that sweet spot just got a little sweeter!

Get ready to channel your inner Chip and Joanna Gaines, with these five wallet-friendly tips:

Tip 1. Get a home energy review.

If you’re a resident of Wisconsin, you might qualify for an energy assessment with Focus on Energy (they partner with 107 utilities in the state, so your odds are good!). There is an upfront fee but the assessment will show you where your home is doing well, where you could be doing better and how to cut energy costs—and many of the fixes are easy and affordable like updating lights, sealing up energy-wasting gaps or switching your showerheads. Plus, you might qualify for incentives on bigger ticket items like a money-saving, energy-efficient furnace.

Tip 2. Up your curb appeal—affordably!

When it’s time to sell, home buyers will judge your house in seconds. If it doesn’t look great from the road, they might just keep driving (really!).  And, of course, you deserve some curb appeal too—don’t put in all that effort just for the next owner. To keep costs low, pick perennial plants instead of annuals, swap plants with friends and look on Craig’s list (a little sweat equity could nab you some freebies). To save even more, pick plants that need minimal watering, add a rain barrel, compost and share equipment with neighbors and friends. You’ll save money and help the environment too.

Tip 3. Do it yourself.

Harness the power of YouTube and Google. They’re loaded with home improvement how-tos and there are plenty of repairs and updates that even an amateur can do. Unless you envision lots of do-it-yourself projects in your future, consider renting major tools. You’ll save money on the project, be able to get just the tools you need and won’t have to deal with tool storage and maintenance.

Tip 4. Focus on value.

Check out Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. This is an annual snapshot of the improvements that are most likely to give you a payback on your dollar. Their top 2023 recommendation: HVAC conversion and electrification (ok, a bit boring, but great payback!). The home improvement with the worst return: adding an upscale master suite. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t make a dream improvement—hey, it’s your house!—but be aware that it might not make sense financially.

Tip 5. Set up a home improvement savings account.

Save ahead of time and you might not have to take out a loan—or be able to take out a smaller loan. One of the best ways to build the funds you need? Automatic transfers. With a Summit savings account, you can automatically set aside the amount you decide each paycheck and watch your savings grow.  And if a loan is the right choice for you, Summit can see how the equity you've built up in your home may be able to help you - plus talk through other options to help you find the best fit. 

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