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3 Value-Adding Home Improvement Projects that Don’t Require an Architect

Being an architect, I refuse to let other people work on my home on projects I can finish quickly and simply myself.  A few examples of such projects are below. When doing these projects, you should always look on the web, in your local library, or even go to a home improvement store for easy to follow instructions on what to do and what not to do. Generally, the mid range materials for these projects are not overly expensive. The real expense comes when people start the work without figuring proper costs and methodologies, and so accidentally ruin their materials. Everything is expensive when you have to pay for it twice!

Remodeling a bathroom

After deciding you want to remodel a bathroom, your first step should be figuring out what it will cost for the project. The average cost to remodel a bathroom is $9,348. However, depending on the size of the bathroom and how many upgrades you want, the final cost can vary greatly—from $2,600 to $50,000.

The good news is that bathroom remodels offer some of the best returns for a home improvement project when you sell your home.

Here are a few tips to make sure your remodel goes smoothly:

  • Have all of your fixtures and materials on hand before you start remodeling. Some items might take a few weeks to arrive and you don’t want to have to stop your project while waiting for a faucet or special order of tile.
  • Do your research when looking for suppliers. Instead of just going to the big stores, check out local businesses who may offer more options and be just as affordable. You can also look online and save on items like sinks and mirrors.
  • Don’t forget about the lighting fixtures and wait until the last minute to replace them. You may need more wiring or new switches.

Installing a gazebo

If you have basic DIY skills and help, probably the easiest way to build a gazebo is by using a prefabricated kit. The pieces are already cut and some large parts, such as the roof and sides, are assembled. Another advantage of a kit is that the parts fit well together.

Or, if you don’t feel like you have the expertise or the time to make one, finding a contractor is another option to get the job done, but you’ll pay more for labor.

Gazebos are usually made from wood, although you can also use stone, reinforced concrete or metal. If you choose wood, your best options are redwood and cedar because of their stability and durability.2 The floor can be made from brick, stone, wood or concrete.

If you’d like a privacy screen for your gazebo, you have two options:

  • DIY by installing a custom mural printed on a durable privacy screen from a company like Patio Scenes. You can choose a picture from their image library or even provide your own photo to print on the screen.
  • Have a screen installed by a professional such as Private Screens. They also offer outdoor curtains, mood lighting and screens that can block the wind—with a two-year warranty.

Backyard movie theater

The most important—and expensive—part of your backyard theater is the projector. If you’re on a budget, gadget review website The Wirecutter recommends the BenQ TH 670. You can buy it on Amazon for about $580. It has decent contrast ratio and color quality and 1080p image resolution.

For your screen, you’ve got a few options:

  • Make your own screen. You can find low-cost plans on DIY sites like Instructables.
  • Use a large bed sheet and hang it on a fence, garage door or side of your house.
  • Get portable screen. You can find them on Amazon for around $100 to $200, depending on the size of the screen.

You’ll also need a Blu-ray player with streaming if you want to watch Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. The Wirecutter’s top pick is the Sony BDP-S3500. It has easy-to-use controls and great playback for Blu-rays.

Don’t forgot the sound system. Depending on your budget, you have a few choices:

  • Hook up your stereo system and speakers to the Blu-ray player.
  • If you want outdoor speakers, the Wirecutter recommends the Dayton Audio IO655 speakers, which cost less than $100 per pair and are sealed so they’re water resistant.5
  • You could also get a mixer and PA speakers if you have a larger budget and really want to crank up the sound.