DIY or Professional? 5 Simple Upgrades for an Older Home


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DIY or Professional? 5 Simple Upgrades for an Older Home

San Diego doesn’t have a lot of new-build homes to offer due to the limited amount of free land available. Often, buyers purchase an older home and make updates to suite their modern lifestyle. Living in an older home has many perks. Of course, there are also some downsides. The design of the home and the interior decor may be outdated; it’s not uncommon to see pink bathroom tiles and green shag carpeting. Plus, if you’re still using the original appliances, your utility bills could be through the roof.

When looking to update an older home, there are many things you need to consider, but two of the most common are what can you fix yourself and what requires a professional. If it’s something you cannot do — or easily learn to do — on your own, a professional is the surest and safest call. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common projects and examine how they can be tackled by a professional or with a little sweat equity.

Refinishing hardwood floors.

Whether your hardwood floors are older and damaged or hidden beneath layers of carpet from the 1980s, refinishing your wood floors can give your home an elegant and immediate facelift. People who take on this project tend to spend one to two days and need specialized tools, like a floor sander. You’ll also need to address other issues like gaps and squeaks. If this sounds like too much of a chore, you can hire a wood flooring professional (these pros usually charge between $1,074 and $2,400). However, it’s important to keep in mind that this figure will ultimately be determined by whether you’re refinishing the floor or simply recoating it. Before getting any bids, ensure you know which one your floors require to avoid overpaying for a service you don’t need.

Replacing outdated lights with ceiling fans and modern fixtures.

Those dining room sconces harken to the 1970s — and not in a cool retro way. It’s pretty simple to swap out lighting fixtures as long as you don’t have to manage too much electrical work. However, if you notice the wiring has become brittle or frayed, you may need to hire a professional electrician (at an average cost of $300) to check things out and make the necessary upgrades for you.

Adding trim and repairing baseboards.

Depending on the time and money you have available, trim is a DIY project that can be really simple or really elaborate. In fact, even complex trim designs can be simple if you have a good plan in place. However, if you need to cut the trim to size and don’t have the tools or aren’t known for paying attention to detail, a professional is a good way to ensure you have even, sturdy and seamless baseboards.

Refacing kitchen cabinets and affixing new hardware.

Painting cabinets and installing updated hardware is an effective way to have an immediate impact on your home’s appeal. The tools and supplies you need will be simple, and if you don’t own them you can rent them from a home improvement store. There are some complications, however, that might make this a job for a professional. Building custom cabinetry is one of them. You’ll want a professional to work on cabinets that have water, fire, or smoke damage.

Updating interior and exterior doors.

Another easy and instant DIY improvement is changing out older doors, especially if they are made out of subpar materials or have an older design. This can be especially exciting to do on your front door. Try not to go too far away from the current style of your house, but find a style and color that is creative and cohesive. However, if your exterior is really outdated, consider hiring professionals to paint the exterior of your home and upgrade windows and shutters.

Make a list of what you can do and what you can afford. Then, prioritize that list so you can accomplish the most meaningful projects first. This way, you can make small surface changes that have a big impact on the look and feel of your home.