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Invest a Tax Refund in Your Home: $3,000 Projects

Boring? Hardly. Upgrading and maintaining your home preserves its value, giving you a nice return on your investment. Plus, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors every day.

Add outdoor lighting

Show your house in its best light, even in the evening, with an outdoor lighting scheme. You’ll enhance your home’s architectural features and play up landscaping details, plus you’ll be adding safety and security to your property.

Here’s a quick price check on a professionally installed system:

  1. 7 LED outdoor lighting fixtures to illuminate 100 feet of walkway: $2,275.

  2. A transformer to convert household current into low-voltage: $400.

  3. Two motion-detector security lighting fixtures: $300.

Total: $2,975

Replace your air conditioning

Hoping the old unit holds on for another year? New central air conditioning units require 30% less electricity and lower energy bills by 30% more than AC units made just a few years ago. You also may qualify for a $300 energy tax credit. Prices for a new energy-efficient central air conditioner start around $3,000. You can contact an HVAC company within your area to see what they can do for you and what steps you’ll be willing to take to get one fitted. However, in the event that you are unable to find a reliable HVAC service provider near you, you can search on the Internet for such firms. For instance, you can search on the web to find firms like I Need The Plumber & AC. Moreover, you can check out the “view website” option of the above-mentioned firm to learn more about them.

Install a patio

A backyard patio is an inexpensive way to add some sweet living area to your home.

For a professionally installed brick or concrete paver patio that’s 12 by 16 feet–plenty of space for a table, chairs, and barbecue equipment-you’ll pay about $15 per square foot, or $3,000 total. Get in touch with professional concrete patio installers who can give you a better idea of the price based on your specific requirements. Expect a payback of 30% to 60% on your investment (plus many hours of great outdoor living).

Other paving materials include limestone, slate, and granite. Concrete is a less expensive option that costs $6 to $12 per square foot, installed.

Upgrade your deck

Make your deck more livable with upgrades that add shade, increase privacy, and provide convenience.

  1. Take up basic maintenance such as pressure washing, Deck Cleaning, staining, oiling, etc. It could be a beneficial method to provide a fresh look to your deck and might require less expenditure.

  2. Shade sails provide soft, diffuse shade for areas not covered by trees and building overhangs. They’re made of weatherproof materials that never need maintenance, and come in various shapes. Professional installation of a 12-foot triangular sail costs about $3,000, including the sail and support posts.

  3. Cable railings are thin stainless steel cables stretched between posts. They open up views and add a contemporary feel. Expect to pay $70 per lineal foot for the railings plus pro installation.

  4. Built-in planters add visual texture and help define separate areas of your deck. Integrate their construction with built-in benches to add seating. You’ll spend $150 to $250 per lineal foot for cedar or redwood planters and benches, including materials and installation.

John Riha has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. His 1972 suburban house has been an ongoing source of maintenance experience.

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