Transform Your Home on a Budget: 10 Affordable Upgrades Under $500!

Enhancing the desirability of your home doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. This guide outlines ten simple repairs, each costing under $500, that can significantly improve your home’s appeal. With a focus on practicality and without breaking the bank, here are budget-friendly upgrades that anyone with a bit of handyman skills can tackle

1. Repair your window screens

Sometimes window screens get holes, bent or damaged.  A simple home upgrade that anyone can do is to repair or replace your broken window screens.

You can pay a window company $30 to $50 per window for new screens, or if you’re moderately handy, you can make your own.  Your local hardware store will have kits for making new window screens.  You can also purchase screen repair kits that will allow you to replace the screen itself missing parts, while reusing your old frame.  You’ll need to buy a spline tool if you plan on replacing the screen material.  A spline tool is typically less than $10.

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Expect to spend an hour per screen if you’re making complete new screens.  However, re-screening takes about 20 minutes per screen after you get the hang of it.  While you’re at it, don’t forget to re-screen any doors that need repaired as well.

Helpful tip:  When installing new screen, have a utility knife with new blades available.  Once you have the new spline and screen are in place, run your utility knife along the spline on the scrap side of the screen to cut off the excess screen.

Related article:  Top 10 most forgotten home repairs

2. Update your home’s interior lights

If you still have older incandescent lights in your home, consider upgrading them with LED light bulbs.  If you have florescent lights, you definitely should consider replacing these.  Florescent bulbs take time to brighten and can make your home look darker when they are first turned on.

Helpful tip:  If you need to replace a light fixture, avoid replacing it with built in LED light fixtures.  If the LED lights fail, and they do, you’ll need to replace the fixture.  Instead, use fixtures that use replaceable bulbs where you can use LED bulbs.  When a bulb fails, you can simply replace the bulb.

3. Paint your front door

The first place prospective buyers are forced to stop when visiting your home, is the front door.  While their agent is unlocking the door, buyers are standing around looking at your front door and entry way.  Dust, cobwebs and dingy door hardware are easy home upgrades that anyone can fix.

Hiring someone to paint the entire exterior of your home can be expensive.  So, start with painting the front door yourself.  Even if you buy the most expensive paint and quality paint brush, you’ll spend less than $100 for everything. Before painting, be sure to mask the hinges.  If possible, remove any door hardware like the peephole, door handle and deadbolt, otherwise mask them well.

Helpful tip:  Common favorite colors of Realtors® are red, black and grey, but choose a color that fits the color scheme of your home.

4. Mulch and flowers

Everyone knows that curb appeal is important.  Curb appeal doesn’t have to be expensive, to look expensive.  Something as simple as pulling the weeds, and mulching your plants with either rock or bark can freshen up your home.   You can add bright color to your home with flowers.

Helpful tip:  Worried that your flowers won’t last?  Here’s a trick used by professional landscapers.  When buying your flowers, buy an extra plastic planting pot the same size as the pot your flowers come in.  Then when you plant your flowers, don’t take them out of the pot.  Instead, bury your extra planting pot in the ground and place your fresh flowers pot and all into the spare planting pot.  Then if your flowers fade, just lift the old flowers out of the ground and insert a new plant.

5. Paint interior

No matter how clean you keep your is home, dirt begins to impact the visual appeal of your home.  You could hire a professional painter, but that would cost you a few thousand dollars.  For under $500, you can buy a good quality paint, rollers and brushes to paint your entire home.

Helpful tip:  Quality paint and brushes make a difference.  Avoid paint at your big box stores and purchase at your local paint store. If you have stains or worse, your children drew on your walls with markers, you’ll need a quality stain blocker applied to the stains prior to painting.  Our favorite is Zinser Shellac BIN primer.  We have found this primer can block any stain.  It has a very strong odor like ammonia until it dries, so you’ll want to open your windows.

6. Install new faucets

Most sink faucets you buy at the big box stores are relatively easy to install.  The challenge comes when removing the old faucets.  Old faucets can be rusted and difficult to remove.  Shutoff valves (called angle stops) that have not leaked before, often leak when they are shut off.  However, even after all of these headaches, nothing says “new” like new faucets and supply lines.  Kitchen faucets can be purchased for under $200.  Bathroom faucets can be purchased for under $100.  Supply lines and angle stops will cost approximately $50 per sink.

Helpful tip – In my experience, angle stops almost always leak if they haven’t been turned off/on in several years.  Before you go to the plumbing store, take a picture of the current angle stop from the side.  Additionally, if you can identify whether your water pipes are copper or galvanized it will help with purchasing the correct valve.

7. Upgrade your homes door knobs and door hinges

Too often, door knobs and hinges get painted over by homeowners.  Older door hardware starts to lose its finish, and looks dull.  Interior door knobs are a relatively easy task to replace.  You can swap out door knobs for bedrooms and bathrooms for less than $50 a door.  Hinges are little more challenging as you need to take the door down in order to do it properly.

Helpful tip:  It’s also helpful to have someone helping you as you take the door down and put it back up.  If don’t have someone to help you, you can buy a door lifter installation tool for around $25.

8. Install new hinges and handles on your kitchen cabinets

Like other door hardware, cabinet hings and handles can lose their finish and begin to look dull.  Start by looking at your handles.  Open your cabinet doors and drawers and look at where the handle is attached.  You’ll want to know if they are held on by one, or two screws.  If two, you’ll need to know the distance between the screws.  This will typically be 3″ or 3.5″, but can vary.  Once you know this distance, you can purchase replacement handles to match the existing screw holes.  Hinges can be a bit more complex to match.  However, you can take a cabinet door off the cabinet with the hinges and take it to your local hardware store to find the correct type of hinge.

Helpful tip:  Sometimes the screws that come with your new handles will not be long enough.  Keep the screws from the old handles.  In the new screws aren’t long enough, you can typically use the old screws.

9. Update your shower head and trim

Most people know how to replace their shower head.  But have you ever thought about replacing the shower trim?  You know, the metal plate that surrounds your shower/bath handle? This trim, called the “escutcheon” can become tarnished and difficult to clean. You can replace the trim and handle for most showers and baths for less than $150

Different brands and handles have different procedures for replacing.  Look on the handle or escutcheon for a brand or label.  If you can’t find a brand or label, take a picture of the handle with the escutcheon to your local plumbing supply store.  Many brands are recognizable and your plumbing supply store can help you get the correct handle and trim kit.  If they’re unable to identify your brand, try using Google Lens.  This handy tool lets you search the web for matching images that often will contain a description of the item.

Helpful tip:  It’s probably a good idea to watch a few videos on replacing your handle and trim kit. Disassembling it isn’t difficult, but a misunderstanding of what needs to be taken apart can result in water flooding your bathroom.

10. Upgrade your home’s old ceiling fans

Ceiling fans looked dated and dirty within a few short years. Though you loved the ceiling fan you installed 20 years ago, it’s likely covered in dust and dirt by now. Replacing an old ceiling fan will set you back around $500 if you hire it out.  However, if you follow the instructions carefully, the typical homeowner can replace a ceiling fan for under $300, depending on how fancy of a ceiling fan you purchase.   If you’re not used to replacing ceiling fans, give yourself a couple of hours. You’ll find this simple home upgrade will make your home look brighter and more updated.

Helpful tip:  If your existing ceiling fan hangs from a light box and lacks support from a ceiling fan mounting box, it could fall. Ensure that the correct type of box supports your ceiling fan.


With these ten affordable updates, your home can stand out to prospective buyers without straining your budget. Whether you choose to DIY or hire a handyman, these practical upgrades can significantly enhance your home’s sale-ability.