A new front door has the highest ROI, not to mention the boost in curb appeal. 

You’re going to save money with DIY home improvement projects. Sure, everybody knows that.

But did you know how much? Cut professionals out of the equation and you can save half the cost of a project — or more. 

What’s more, you get a great return on your investment. Meaning, the financial value you get out of a DIY project is much more than what you put in.

Here’s a rundown of some top money-saving projects, using cost and recovered costs data from the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

#1 New Steel Front Door

Few replacement projects have as much upside as a new steel entry door. Not only will you recover about 75% of the cost of having an entry door professionally installed, but you’ll spruce up your curb appeal big time. Want proof? Ninety-six percent of homeowners responding to the “Remodeling Impact Report” say they are happy or satisfied with their new front door.  

Of course, you’ll save even more if you tackle this project yourself. Know your door parts (jambs, threshold, stops) before digging in. You’ll be putting in a pre-hung door that includes jambs, so the old stuff has to come out. If you can, preserve the old casing (trim) that goes around the door. Otherwise, plan to buy new casing.

If You Hire                          If You DIY

Cost $2,000                            Cost $250

Recoup at Sale $1,500.         Recoup at Sale $1,500

Recoup Cost 75%                   Recoup Cost 600%

This is a good one to have a friend or spouse lend a hand. It’ll take six to eight hours if it’s your first time. Remember the three-legged mantra of door installation: Plumb, level, square.

#2 New Garage Door

Tired of looking at that big blank billboard every time you pull into your driveway? Change out your old garage door for a spiffy new steel model and the whole neighborhood will thank you. Save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.

If You Hire                        If You DIY

Cost $2,300                           Cost $850

Recoup at Sale $2,000        Recoup at Sale $2,000

Recoup Costs 87%                Recoup Costs     235%

A steel garage door comes in four panels that are relatively lightweight but awkward — get a friend to lend a hand and you’ll have this project done in a day. Then stand back and admire along with 95% of homeowners in the “Remodeling Impact Report” who said they were happy or satisfied with their new garage door. 

#3 New Vinyl Windows

If you want to replace four or more windows, or a second-story window, then hire the work out. Being up on a ladder with an object as bulky as a window is no place for a non-professional. Pros bring scaffolding, which takes time to set up but ultimately makes the work faster and safer.Replacing one, two, or maybe three first-story windows is a good DIY job. Anything more and the pros will get the job done with better efficiency in terms of time and hassle.

If you Hire                           If You DIY

Cost per Window $556         Cost per Window $250

Recoup at Sale $444             Recoup at Sale $444

Recoup Costs 80%                 Recoup Costs 178%

If you’ve measured your rough opening correctly and bought the right window, then one window should take you three to four hours. You’ll get faster with subsequent windows.

#4 New Wood Flooring

Few projects are as satisfying, while recovering such a high percentage of your investment, as new wood flooring. According to the “Remodeling Impact Report,” 96% of homeowners were happy or satisfied with their professionally installed hardwood floors. Combine that with a 91% return on your investment, and you’ll likely be a very happy homeowner.For the DIYer, installing hardwood flooring is a bit labor intensive, but the techniques are fairly easy to master. Once you get the hang of it, installing prefinished hardwood flooring should go smoothly.

If You Hire                            If You DIY

Cost $5,500                               Cost $1,770

Recoup at Sale $5,000            Recoup at Sale $5,000

Recoup of Cost 91%.                Recoup of Cost 282%


#5 Insulation Upgrade

OK, maybe it’s not the sexiest project. After all, it’s tucked out of sight in your attic. But you can feel it with increased comfort, and see the savings on your energy bill. Those are big pluses. Upgrading an under-insulated attic space can save you up to 50% per year in energy costs. With a pro cost of $2,100, it’ll take at least a couple of years to pay off your investment with savings. Do it yourself, however, and you’ll only spend about $700 for enough 10-inch-thick fiberglass batt insulation to cover a 20-foot-by-40-foot attic space. You’ll pocket the savings much sooner. It’s also an awkward project, it can be messy, and you’ll need to bundle up behind protective clothing. However, insulating your attic is a low-skill project that most DIYers can pull off. Just be sure not to stick your foot through the drywall under the attic floor joists! 

If You Hire                          If you DIY 

Cost $2,100                             Cost $700

Recoup at Sale $1,600          Recoup at Sale $1,600

Recoup of Cost 76%               Recoup of Cost 229%


Article by John Riha

 January 26, 2018 by Kathleen Renee


Tips and tricks for DIY room painting

Before running a paint roller over any wall in your home, Ryan Tantzen, manager at Anilin Decorating Centre, says you should first “figure out your needs for the project.”

“Whether you’re looking to sell your home, or stay in it, will dictate those needs,” he said.

The general rule of thumb? If you’re looking to sell a house, it’s advisable to use a light colour.

“Lighter colours open up your space and make it feel clean,” said Tantzen. “If you’re planning on staying in your home, you don’t have to worry about trends – you just have to worry about what you like.”

Once your needs are established, Tantzen says the next step is to select the correct paint for the project, a decision largely influenced by the humidity level of the room in question.

The most humid rooms in a house are the bathrooms. Tantzen says paint technology has come a long way from the oil-based paints of yesteryear, which are lauded for their ability to resist moisture. Contemporary brands offer humidity-friendly options that prevent condensation from collecting on walls.

When it comes to paint finish, Tantzen says many customers prefer a matte finish, as mattes are less likely to show surface imperfections when compared with gloss finishes. The most popular finish, in Tantzen’s experience is Regal Eggshell.


“It’s a balance between a flat and a pearl,” he said. “With most products on the market, you require some sheen to have a durable, washable finish. Eggshell offers a nice middle ground. It looks soft and elegant on walls.”

Tantzen emphasizes that one main advantage of paints with higher-gloss finishes is that they are washable.

Before applying a fresh coat of paint, Tantzen says it’s crucial to make sure the walls have been prepared for painting, a procedure that can involve scraping off lifting paint, sanding the walls, and patching any divots and imperfections with a product like Drydex. In the case of a bathroom, Tantzen says it’s then necessary to apply an oil-based primer to the walls to “seal in the trouble spots” before applying fresh paint.

Tantzen says you should always work from top to bottom when painting, keeping a “wet edge” – the still-wet section where paint has just been applied – and working out from that. Always saturate the roller. Also, to avoid issues like texturing, uneven sheen and lap marks, don’t overwork the paint.

“Once the paint starts to set, if you touch it, it will texture it. You don’t want to go back and start working it,” said Tantzen, noting that two hours between coats should suffice.

Tantzen also suggests that, after cleaning paint brushes to the point that no cloudy water can still be squeezed from them, you rub a bit of hair conditioner into the bristles before storing them.

When taping baseboard edges, Tantzen says there a couple of tips to remember. First, he suggests pushing hard on the leading edge of the painter’s tape to seal it. Second, Tantzen says, you shouldn’t leave the tape on for too long, as it will either start to lift or to bond to the surface.

When it comes to planning feature walls, Tantzen recommends either selecting the first wall you see within a room, or painting a wall across from a window, as it will be highlighted, literally.

Ultimately, Tantzen says, if you don’t like your colour choice, or how the new paint looks, you can always buy another can of paint and start over.

Your garage can be a place to stash everything from tools to seasonal decor without feeling — and looking — like a dumping ground.

Follow these seven simple guiding principles to transform it into an organized, attractive, and even inspiring space.

#1 Get Stuff Off the Floor

Clear bins with colorful labels on shelving in garage

Hoist those sedentary bins up and away onto a shelving system.

Stackable clear bins (with labels! don’t forget the labels!) at arm-height make it easy to recognize and grab frequently used items, while open space beneath provides assigned parking for the Shop-Vac and kiddos’ wagons.

#2 Color-Coordinate Bins

A white shelving unit in a garage with color storage bins
Image: DIY Garage Mudroom Lockers by Keeping It Simple

Two metal carts with wheels in a garage
Image: Edward Reyna 


With your newfound open floor space, you can dedicate durable carts to different endeavors — gardening, camping, tailgating. You’ll save transition time (and your back) by rolling all your supplies to the yard or the car.

#4 Put Up Pegboards (Lots of ‘Em)

A white pegboard with hanging tools in a garage
Image: Shannon Acheson, AKA Design

Just put those bad boys on empty wall space. Group like items according to shape and size, leaving plenty of room to add new tools to your masterpiece with just a hook (rather than a massive reorganization).

#5 Organize With an Eye on Style

A blue workbench in a garage with a blue pegboard
Image: Polished Habitat


The accessible storage is so symmetrical, so colorful, you’ll actually look forward to using it. Or just standing before it and grinning. (Those little hanging cubbies? Want.)

#6 Designate Zones

A garage with wood workbench and spray paint storage
Image: Reality Daydream


(Bonus points for the additional pegboard storage this bench provides.) And how about those paints and clever wall racks? Reminiscent of a delicious kitchen spice rack, no?

#7 Pull It All Together for a DIY Dream Come True

A large garage with multiple workbenches and a pegboard

Image: mtneer_man/Flickr

Let’s take a moment to slow clap the organized glory of a garage that juggles multiple projects — woodworking, car repairs, home improvements — without breaking a sweat.

Smartly spaced, wall-to-ceiling, and under-counter storage give everything a place, while stylishly coordinated pops of red and blue pull it all together.

Despite so much going on, it all feels organized and open. The photo alone is enough to make you want to roll up your sleeves and dive into a project.

Calgary’s lake communities are great for more than just summer fun

While lakes are thought of as a source of summer-time recreation, they also offer plenty of recreational opportunities during the winter months. Just ask Auburn Bay resident Sonja Hayes-Powers. She, along with her husband and two children, moved to Auburn Bay two years ago.

“We moved here specifically to be in a lake community, because it gives you lots of things to do with your kids, both in winter and summer,” said Hayes-Powers. “For example, we’ll be going to the lake tonight with some friends to go sledding.”

After sledding, community residents can visit one of the fire pits dotting the lake. In fact, during the winter months, the Auburn Bay Residents Association organizes Campfire Fridays, where people gather around the fire pits and drink hot chocolate. “It gets a community feeling going,” said Hayes-Powers.

Contrary to what some may think, Hayes-Powers says the lake is not only for family-time recreation. “I use the lake when my kids are in school . . . I put some music on my headphones and do a good lap on the rink around the lake,” she said.

While Hayes-Powers admits Auburn Lake remains busier during the summer months, she says it’s also “nicely busy” during the winter, estimating her family uses it at least once a week during those months.

In fact, she says proximity to Auburn Lake allows her family to enjoy recreational activities year round within the community – they rarely have reason to leave. “Unless we go to Olympic Plaza, or if the weather is too warm to skate on the lake, we don’t have to seek out recreational opportunities elsewhere,” she said, a welcome change from her previous home in Copperfield, where the family frequently took trips to Bowness or Carburn Park to go skating.


In neighbouring lake community Mahogany, Mahogany Homeowners Association general manager Sally Lockhart counts four ice rinks, a learn-to-skate program and ice fishing among the many winter amenities the lake offers for community residents.

At 63 acres, Mahogany Lake is the city’s largest. And once the surrounding community is fully built out, Lockhart says it will be home to 30,000 people.

Currently, she says, 25 per cent of Mahogany’s population is under 18. “It’s a very family oriented and very young community. The lake gets a lot of use, even in the winter. There are kids out there skating all the time,” she said, noting it costs the community between $15,000 and $20,000 annually to maintain the ice.

Lockhart says there are more winter recreation possibilities on the horizon, including a potential speed-skating track, ice slides and cross-country ski paths. “The potential is huge to have the outdoors in your backyard year round,” she said. “It’s just a matter of putting the right partners in place to build on those opportunities.”

Among the partnerships Lockhart is seeking are stronger relationships between the City and individual homeowners’ associations to better service residents and make recreational dreams into realities.

Greg Macdonald of Sage Appraisals is a long-time lake-community resident, having lived in McKenzie Lake since 1999.

“We had young children, and we were thinking of taking them to the beach on summer holidays, but it turns out there are all these winter activities as well,” he said. “Lakes are four-season recreational facilities for families of the communities.”

Macdonald lists tobogganing, pleasure skating, hockey and ice fishing among the winter activities at McKenzie Lake.

“I go to the lake very frequently to play hockey,” he said, noting that many lakes have their own Zambonis, which makes for high-quality ice.

An avid fisher, Macdonald regularly takes his ice-fishing gear on to McKenzie Lake during the winter. “It’s pretty easy to do,” he said, adding residents only have to go 30 or 40 feet from the shore to fish.

Non-residents, on the other hand, must travel much farther to get their ice-fishing fix. “If I didn’t live in a lake community in Calgary, I would have to drive out of town to ice fish,” said Macdonald.

Macdonald says he pays $250 yearly in lake fees and receives “excellent value” for his money.

Start looking for that contractor NOW if you want your project done by summer’s end.

Whew. The holidays are done. The new year has rung in.

That’s when smart homeowners know it’s time to do these five things that’ll save time, money, and hassles all year long:

#1 Organize Your Seasonal Storage Space

Wrapping Paper Stored on Closet Ceiling| Storage Solutions
Image: Frank Farm / frankfarm.org

Packing away holiday decor presents a big opportunity. It’s the best time to sort, declutter, and reorganize that space where you store your seasonal stuff.

So before simply stuffing your holiday things back in there somewhere, take inventory, then sort, filter, donate, trash, and re-home as many of your things as possible.

It’ll help keep you more organized all year long, and make it easier to find all your holiday stuff next year.

#2 Deep-Clean the Kitchen

A gas stovetop with food crumbs, green teapot
Image: Jamie Bonilla

Purge your pantry and frisk your fridge, passing what you can on to local food banks. Scrub the walls and kick-boards, and even pull those appliances right out from the walls for a thorough vacuuming to prevent gunk (and stinks!) from accumulating.

#3 Plan Summertime Projects Now (Especially if You Need a Pro)

An outdoor space with patio furniture and a dog
Image: Photo by ADZA


1. If you’re DIYing, you’ll be ready to roll at the first hint of nice weather.

2. If you’re hiring a contractor or other professional, getting your bids and contracts in place now will save you from competing with the spring rush (wait too long, and you may not be able to book anyone!).

#4 Create a Schedule to Clean ALL Your Home’s Filters

Two home air filters

It’s not just your HVAC. The filters in your fridge, your vacuum cleaner, your dryer, your air filter, and other household items need to be changed or cleaned at least once a year to be effective, usually more often — especially your dehumidifier. Yucky mold grows easily there.

Check manufacturer instructions for all the filters in your home, and create a master schedule, then add them to your calendar app to remind you.

#5 Save Some Green at White Sales

A bed with white sheets and a white bedspread by window
Image: @hawkes_landing

Linens and towels go on sale in January. It’s a long-standing retail tradition that started back when linens only came in white (hence the name), and still has a solid rep as a money-saver — only in more colors today.

Cut your threadbare bath towels into rags and restock your supply, plus fill in any gaps in your bed linens you may have noticed if you had a house full of holiday guests.

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