Tackle these fall improvements now

  • Tackle these fall improvements now

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 11, 2016

    house with trees
    Creating a snug, cozy home becomes a priority as the season winds down and cold air lurks just around the corner. Making some major home improvements in the fall can start the winter off on the right foot. Since some of those changes might be a little pricey, now is the time to start saving up for the cost. Here are a few awesome ideas for fall home improvements, based on a variety of budgets, that can get you prepared for winter just in time.

  • Improvements on a tight budget

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 11, 2016

    If you're pinching pennies…

    Just because you're on a tight budget doesn't mean you can't have an awesome fall and comfortable winter. Keep things warm and cozy by sealing up all those drafts that have been driving your utility bill up each year. Windows are one of the biggest culprits for drafts, as are doors. Seal them up with good weatherstripping--depending upon the size of your home, you might be able to do this for less than $100. If the problems continue despite your best efforts, it might be worth hiring a professional to fix the windows or doors.

    There are other surprising areas where drafts can come through, such as wall outlets, light switches, around pipes and even through the walls. Good insulation can help prevent this. Insulation in the walls and attic, as well as small insulated panels that easily install behind the switch and outlet plates, can ease the breeze. Most insulation runs between $1.50 and $3.50 per square foot.

  • Fall improvements under $2,000

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 11, 2016

    house and leaves
    If you've got a little more money to burn…

    Do you have a beautiful fireplace or wood stove that you haven't been using thanks to chimney problems? Now is the time to get those repairs done. A well-maintained chimney can allow you to use the fireplace whenever you please, lower the risk of deadly fires or carbon monoxide poisoning, and even save you money if you plan to heat the house with wood. Simple cracks might cost as little as a few hundred to repair; major chimney rebuilding might run a few thousand and up.

    Thinking about what you might be able to do outside the house? A firepit is a great way to welcome the colder weather while improving the atmosphere of your backyard. Though a prefabricated firepit is the cheapest way to go, saving up now for a nicer, hand-built pit can add even greater value to your home. DIY firepits can cost around $200 to get the fire started, while calling in the pros can run from $1,400 and up.

  • Upgrade fireplace or siding

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 11, 2016

    If it's a serious improvement to add value…

    If you're looking for a home improvement that will boost the value of your home and make it much more attractive to potential buyers, a beautiful fireplace is the ticket. Opt for small fireplaces in a few rooms, complete with gas logs that require little maintenance. Or go a bit pricier and install a wood-burning fireplace that heats things up with cozy ambiance. Expect to pay from $400 to $10,000, depending upon a variety of choices.

    Already got a fireplace? Put that money toward making the outside of your home as secure and attractive as possible. New siding provides a fresh, clean look that will be quite welcome when the winter snows begin to thaw. As an added bonus: Now that the busy summer season is winding down for popular contractors, it might be possible to get lower rates on installation. Expect vinyl siding to cost around $14,000 for a 1,250 square foot home.

  • Significant home improvements

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 11, 2016

    If your great-aunt just left you a massive inheritance…

    Perhaps it's time to forget about cozy winters and move to the islands!

    But if you are really attached to your home and want to create something beautiful for the upcoming winter, put some of that cash toward home improvements that ensure you will stay as cozy as possible at all times. A whole-house generator with a dedicated fuel tank is a great way to keep warm during winter storms -- a nice one will set you back about $12,000.

    As the autumn leaves begin to fall, a new roof can ensure your home will withstand anything Mother Nature throws at it. That roof might run $20,000 or more for a home of 1,250 square feet. And finally, hire an interior designer to completely make over each room this fall, leaving you with something new and inspired by the time the snow hits. Interior designers typically charge between $50 and $200 per hour, with some going up to $500 per hour or more.

    No matter how much you can spend on fall improvements this year, do what you can to make your home more comfortable and valuable.