5 cheap home renovations that will give you lots of bang for your buck

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How to choose a contractor for home renovations
WATCH: Consumer Matters reporter Tony Tighe shares advice on how to choose a contractor for your home renovations – Jun 28, 2016

Renovations. For most homeowners the word conjures up pictures of granite kitchen countertops, spa-style shower systems — and having to camp out at the in-laws’ while the work is done.

But there are plenty of fixes that can make a big difference to your property value without taking a big chunk out of your savings and your quality of life.

Here are the five low-cost renovations with the highest return on investment, according to real estate professionals consulted by Global News:

Landscaping: Cost $500 – $2,000. Return: $5,000-$15,000. Return on investment: 650-900%

With homes, as with people, it’s hard to shake that first impression. Your front yard is your home’s first introduction to potential buyers and it can colour the rest of the experience.

“Nicely-landscaped gardens convey a message that the owners care well for the house,” said Toronto-based real estate agent Marisha Robinsky. “Many homeowners don’t realize how big a difference it makes in how the house quality is perceived.”

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The key is to avoid going overboard. Landscaping costs can easily stretch into five-digit figures depending on design, the choice of plants and paving stones, and the size of the property.

While it’s definitely worth it to repair the cracks and pull the weeds growing in your interlocking brick walkway, installing a brand new path could easily break your budget without adding significant value.

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Quick home renovations before the holidays that won’t break the bank

Painting wood paneling. Cost: $500. Return: $5,000-$15,000. ROI: 900-2,900%

Many people know that a fresh coat of paint can give a home an essential face lift. That effect, though, is even more dramatic in those old Canadian homes that feature dark wooden paneling.

Cover wainscoting and crown moulding in white and watch the magic happen. Dark, outdated-looking rooms suddenly appear bigger, brighter and breezier.

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“For most buyers, wood paneling signals that a renovation is needed, but many of these same buyers rarely notice when wood paneling has been painted,” John Pasalis of Toronto real estate brokerage Realosophy told Global News.

You can even do the painting yourself, just make sure to pick a product meant for wood.

READ MORE: Edmonton app matches home improvement projects with contractors

Painting kitchen cabinets. Cost $500. Return: $5,000-$10,000. ROI: 900-1,900%

Is your kitchen stuck in the 1970s, with their brown cabinets and avocado-green appliances? One effective, low-cost touchup is to paint over the cabinets in lighter, more modern shades, said Pasalis.

Also, be sure to replace those squeaky hinges with some new hardware.

“It converts an old kitchen from being something most buyers feel they need to renovate asap, to a kitchen they can live with for the short term,” said Pasalis.

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Updating bathroom fixtures. Cost: $500-$750. Return: $5,000. ROI: 570-900%

This is the low-cost take on the bathroom makeover: take out those old brass faucets and replace them with the shiny, stainless steel variety.

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You can also brighten up the bathroom with upgraded lighting and a light paint job.

Finally, you’ll be surprised what a difference new knobs can make. Splurge on some designer handles to turn a cabinet from “old” to “antique” or to add some flair to your Ikea furniture.

WATCH: Selecting the right paint colour: what works best for your home

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Selecting the right paint colour: what works best for your home

Exterior painting. Cost: $750. Return: $5,000-$10,000. ROI: 570-1,200%

This is absolutely necessary if there are cracks or paint chips flaking off, said Pasalis.

But even if your exterior walls are in fine shape, you might want to consider a trendier colour combination. Charcoal grey with black trims and a bright-coloured door, for example, seems to be the palette of choice in Eastern Toronto right now, said Pasalis.

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Have a walk around your neighbourhood and see if you can discern any recurring colour patterns among newly renovated homes, especially those that were revamped by experienced contractors. If you do, take note and replicate.

Here’s an infographic summarizing these tips on home renovation:

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