12 DIY projects for every budget and skill level

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | November 18, 2015

In many parts of the country, housing values are on the rise. The return on investment for various home improvement projects should begin to increase as well. Whether your skills have been honed on numerous DIY projects or you're just buying your first tool belt, now might be a great time to tackle those upgrades that have been in the planning stages for a while.

There are improvements to fit just about any budget. And while some of the projects may require a contractor's expertise for various phases, almost all offer plenty of opportunities for ambitious DIYers. Below are a few projects to consider.

Many of the cost and return on investment (ROI) numbers are pulled from Remodeling's 2015 cost vs. value report. The numbers are national averages for the year 2015, and depending on where you live, you may encounter higher or lower costs. Do your research before you dive in to make sure you have the budget available for the DIY project you have in mind.

Budget-friendly tasks

Brighten up your kitchen with new cabinet hardware

DIY skill level: Low. Most cabinet hardware can be easily installed.

Estimated project cost: Expect to pay between $1 to $20 per cabinet for midlevel hardware.

Lower utility costs by installing a programmable thermostat

DIY skill level: Moderate. New thermostats usually have easy to follow installation instructions.

Estimated project cost: About $115.

ROI: You can expect to see $180 annual savings, which is 156% return over a ten year period.

Improve your home's curb appeal with a new steel entry door

DIY skill level: High. Installation may require the skills of an experienced DIYer. However, even a beginner should be able to handle painting the door if you're looking for a way to add your own touch but don't have enough DIY hours under your belt to pull this one off.

Estimated project cost : On average, these run $1,230.

ROI: These doors tend to recoup more than they cost when the home sells -- $1,252 on average. That's a 101.8% return.

Mid-range improvements

Give your house a fresh look with a fiberglass entry door

DIY skill level: High. But while only experienced DIYers should attempt installation, staining the door shouldn't be a problem for a beginner.

Estimated project cost: These are more costly than steel entry doors, running $2,962 on average.

ROI: Estimates for returns here are at $2,107, or 72%.

Make your home say "hello" by replacing old garage door

DIY skill level: High. Most garage door installations require extensive DIY experience.

Estimated project cost: A new garage door will cost about $1,595.

ROI: Averages are at $1,410. That's an 88.4% return.

Protect against leaks and freshen up your house's appearance by installing new gutters

DIY skill level: Moderate. If you have a tall home, you may want to call a contractor.

Estimated project cost: You're looking in the neighborhood of $1.50 to $8 per linear foot.

ROI: Your return here will vary, but if you're selling your home and know that you have leaky gutters or that they're just an eyesore, then you can at least know a home inspection will find them to be in great condition and enjoy the bump in curb appeal.

Higher end projects

Create a new gathering place for family and friends with a wood deck

DIY skill level: High. Pouring piers, setting joists, and using a power saw requires extensive DIY experience. If you're looking to get your hands dirty, take on the task of staining and sealing it once it's built.

Estimated project cost: A brand new wood deck will cost about $10,048.

ROI: This year's resale average is $8,085 for an 80.5% return.

Increase your home's energy efficiency by installing new vinyl replacement windows

DIY skill level: High. Installations should only be done by a DIYer with a lot of skill in this area. If you've never replaced a window before, it's better to call in the pros on this one.

Estimated project cost: New windows can significantly improve both the look and the energy efficiency of your home, so many consider it worth the $11,198 investment.

ROI: Not including the bonus on your energy bill, you can expect to earn back about $8,163 -- or 72.9% of the cost -- when you sell the home.

Make your house look young again by replacing that old exterior veneer with new vinyl siding

DIY skill level: Moderate. Putting up vinyl siding is considered a DIY-friendly project, but if you have a multi-story home, you may want to hire some help.

Estimated project cost: Budget out about $12,013 to give your home a brand new look.

ROI: You're looking at a return of $9,694, or 80.7%. But new siding might help your energy efficiency, depending on where you live, so consider that a nice bonus.

The sky's the limit upgrades

Pamper yourself with a remodeled master bath

DIY skill level: Ranges from low to high. You'll need to call a plumber or electrician for the major elements of this remodel, but flooring, painting, and even tile work can often be handled by a DIYer.

Estimated project cost: A top-to-bottom remodel of a bathroom comes out to $16,724 on average.

ROI: You can expect a 70.0% return, or $11,707.

Live larger with a renovated basement

DIY skill level: Ranges from low to high. Framing, insulation, Sheetrock, and painting can often be done by experienced DIYers, but always call a contractor for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and gas line work.

Estimated project cost: This project can greatly increase your living space, and it'll cost $65,442 to get it all done.

ROI: Someday a new homeowner will thank you for all your hard work with a 72.8% return totaling $47,637.

Get gourmet with a major kitchen remodel

DIY skill level: Ranges from low to high. Tile backsplashes, painting, and even setting cabinets can be DIY-friendly tasks, but leave plumbing, electrical, and gas line work to the professionals.

Estimated project cost: To completely remodel your kitchen costs $56,768. That's well-worth it to many homeowners who consider this room the most-used in the house.

ROI: This big remodel should see a return in the neighborhood of $38,485, or 67.8%.

Photo credit to Myryah Shea

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.