• Melanie Evans

Easy-to-Ambitious New Year's DIY Projects to Improve Your Waterloo Region Home

Like many homeowners, you may have eyed a home improvement project in the past only to come up short on time or inspiration.


Don’t feel bad. Nearly half (43%) of all homeowners say their biggest challenge around home improvement decisions is finding DIY time, which also may explain why the same percentage of people say they have unfinished home improvement projects — typically two.


As it's a new year, and you are probably full of all kinds of new energy - and maybe even thinking about selling your Waterloo Region home in 2022 - now might be a good time to channel some of that energy into a project that could add value to your home or infuse it with new style.


Here’s a sampling of projects you can tackle alone — or with a pint-sized assistant in need of a play date.


Beginner Projects


New Faucets




This project requires attention to detail — you don't want to flood your kitchen because you forgot to turn off the water valve — but no prior plumbing experience is required, and a gleaming new faucet can provide a lot of daily delight for a small investment.


You might also be surprised by the difference it will make to the look of your kitchen - or bathroom - and if yours are older faucets, the water saving options you can opt for might help you keep more cash in your wallet too.


Light Fixtures and Switches


Few things can change the atmosphere of a room as quickly as lighting. Swapping out an old fixture for a new one — or an on-off switch for a dimmer — can provide a mood for any occasion. Switches use the same types of wires, so if you can swap a fixture, you can handle a switch.


Fire Pit


This is a great one to tackle with kids. Celebrate the finished product with a s’mores party. You can opt to go the very easy route - buying a fire pit and then grouping some new patio furniture around it, or, if you are up for a little more work then digging and building a permeant fire pit is a lot easier than you might think.


Smart Tech Upgrades


You can choose from a variety of smart home gadgets, some of which need little more than changing a light bulb or connecting in a device. Consider the following and then tackle more as you get used to the idea of a smarter home. Which most people do very quickly and then wonder how they ever coped living in a 'dumb' home!


Smart Doorbell


Installing a smart doorbell/camera is similar to replacing a light switch. The procedure begins with the removal of your old doorbell and the connection of the gadget to your Wi-Fi network.


Smart Locks


Do you have a family member who is constantly misplacing their house keys? A simple solution is to replace a typical door lock with a keyless entry system that can be accessed via a touchpad or a smartphone app.


Smart Home Hub


Companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Nest, Samsung, and others offer smart home hubs that allow you to control connected devices from a single location. The hub is normally "plug and play" and simple to install. However, you may need to do some preliminary debugging to connect all of your gadgets.


Smart Lighting


Purchasing and installing light bulbs is all that is required for this project. However, because each system has its own set of requirements and controls, the upgrading must be coordinated with a smart home system. If you already have a home automation system, make sure the lights you buy will work with it. If you're considering purchasing a new system, keep in mind that it must be compatible with the devices you already own.


Intermediate Projects


Cabinet Refresh


Major changes aren't required to update your kitchen. Change out the door and drawer pulls, paint your cabinets, or remove cabinet doors to create an open-shelving effect to give them a whole new look. Alternatively, if you have too much wall space but not enough cabinets, you can easily build open shelving from the ground up. Homes with open shelves sell for 4.2 percent more than projected, which is a nice bonus.


Barn Door




By replacing a typical swinging door or a closet slider with a barn door that glides on a rail, you can free up space and vary the furniture arrangement possibilities in your room. In addition, your efforts may be rewarded in other ways: A 5% price increase is related with barn doors. You'll need a few tools, a second pair of hands, and the step-by-step instructions that come with most barn door kits, which will walk you through the whole process of building and installing your own sliding barn door.


Advanced Projects


Garden Shed




If you have the know-how to build a garden shed, you can find any number of plans and tutorials online to suit your taste. And if you’re not quite up for that challenge, you can still improve the one you’ve got or buy a garden-variety one and make it your own.


Start by imagining whether you need it for storage or extra work or living space, and go from there. Homes with a “she shed” are associated with a 3.6% price premium by the way.


Heated Floors


If you missed out on your true calling and ended up with a desk job, this is the type of project you can take on. Your achievement in warming your home from the ground up will make you a hero or heroine in your own home.


It will be labor-intensive and require the confidence of an experienced tradesperson (as well as some arithmetic skills). If you're replacing the flooring in a room and have the opportunity to include a heating element in the process, this is the project for you.


You may still want to consider this project if you lack DIY skills and will need a pro's help. Living with heated floors has to be experienced to get just how much of a positive difference it will make to your Waterloo Region home - especially in our cold Ontario winters - and they are near the top of more and more homebuyers' wish lists, and are one of the features many of them are willing to pay a premium for.

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