Renovation Experts Reveal the 9 Most Costly Upgrades You Can DIY

Evelyn Long

May 17, 2024

open paint can and paint brush sitting on table

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Upgrading your home is a fun adventure to improve the look of your home and increase its value. While attractive, these renovations can be costly if you hire a contractor. What’s the alternative? Picking do-it-yourself (DIY) projects help your wallet and gives you something to do in your free time. While the upgrades seem costly, renovation experts have your back with less expensive options. 

9 DIY Upgrades From Renovation Experts

You don’t need a construction degree or certification to get the hammers and saws out. Renovation experts say you should turn these nine projects into DIY upgrades. 

1. Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most popular rooms for renovations. A 2023 report found 25% of 2022 renovations included the bathroom — second only to the kitchen at 28%. 

While upgrading may seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Garrett Ham — CEO of Weekender Management — says minor upgrades can make a significant difference in your bathroom floor and shower. 

“Updating a bathroom can often be done without full-scale renovations,” Ham said. “Simple tasks like re-grouting tile, replacing fixtures, and applying a fresh coat of paint can significantly elevate a property’s interior without the need for extensive plumbing or structural changes.”

2. Smart Technology

Gray Nest thermostat displaying a 63°F temperature

Renovations often include making your home more current with the times. How can you transform your house into a futuristic and tech-integrated space? Renovation experts say smart technology has your back with automated features. 

These devices regulate temperature with intelligent thermostats and monitor your home with advanced security cameras. However, these installations can become expensive if you hire a professional. 

“From smart thermostats to security cameras, many of these systems are designed with the homeowner installer in mind, providing step-by-step instructions that don’t require specialized skills or tools,” Ham said. “These upgrades not only enhance the living experience but also increase a property’s value and appeal in the competitive rental market.”

3. Tile

Replacing your floors with hardwood can be challenging unless you have prior experience. What’s an easier alternative for DIY flooring projects? Renovation experts say to take on the tile. Amy Tuntasood — owner of Salem Home Designs — says beginners should look to backsplash tiles for an easy start. 

“First-time DIYers can easily do backsplash tiling, especially those who consider themselves detail-oriented,” she said. “Choose tiles that are easy to manage and most forgiving, like mosaic and smaller piece patterns.”

How can you do a tile installation job correctly? Martin Orefice — CEO of Rent To Own Labs — says the materials might be expensive, but you can save money on tools. 

“The big tool you’ll need to invest in is a wet saw,” he said. “This is the easiest way to cut tile, especially if you’re not an expert.”

4. Roof Maintenance

When storms come through, the roof often receives the brunt of the damage. Heavy rains and winds can cause a physical and financial toll on your residence. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS) says roof-related damage causes 70% to 90% of all catastrophic losses for residential homes.  

Fortunately, you can mitigate some of the costs by doing the work yourself. Abel Perez Padilla — sales manager of H&A Roofing LLC — says you should leave some jobs to the pros while taking on the simple tasks. 

“Repairing minor roof damage, such as replacing a handful of shingles or resealing around vents and chimneys, can also be a DIY project for the more adventurous homeowner,” he said. “Again, this requires some research and adherence to safety protocols, but it can prevent water damage and extend the life of your roof without the need for immediate professional intervention.”

5. Attic Insulation

The attic might be where you keep old books and family heirlooms. Still, it has a significant role in your home’s energy efficiency. The Department of Energy (DOE) says insulating your attic is one part of optimal energy efficiency. Luckily, renovation experts say you can make this task a DIY project. 

“Proper insulation can drastically improve your home’s energy efficiency, reducing the strain on your HVAC system and leading to long-term savings on energy bills,” Padilla said.

6. Painting

Man and woman painting a room in their house

Painting is a fun afternoon activity until it gets in your clothes. Then, you have to get dish soap and acetone to clean up your garments.

Still, it’s a fun DIY project that will save you money. Kristin Hintlian — co-owner of Bonsai Builders — says painting saves money and is great if you’re trying to revitalize a room. 

“A fresh coat of paint can transform a room or outdated cabinets with a minimal investment compared to professional painting services, which can be costly due to labor,” she said.

7. Kitchen

White kitchen with backsplash tile and an island

Kitchen remodeling is the most popular renovation, according to industry experts. Why do people favor this change? Statista says 42% of remodels occur because people don’t like how their kitchen looks. 

Design trends change, so some people want a breath of fresh air where they cook. Remodeling your kitchen could entail new appliances, countertops, cabinets and other changes to make your estimate more expensive. Ornella Guerrero Bianco — home improvement specialist at — says the kitchen is a place where you can save money through DIY. 

“Ripping out old cabinets and replacing them may require you to be somewhat of a handyman, but if you have the basic knowledge to do so, you’d be saving a pretty penny,” she said. 

8. Deck

Not all of your renovations have to be inside the house. The deck is a terrific choice for an upgrade, as it’ll make your outdoor entertainment spaces even more attractive. Imagine grilling for a summer barbecue as your family and friends relax in deck chairs. Tunstasood says this upgrade is another accessible one for homeowners on a budget. 

“Revamping your deck is now incredibly simple with the availability of composite deck boards at retailers like Lowes or Home Depot,” she said. “All it takes is a saw and a nail gun to achieve the modern and sleek finish.”

9. Landscaping

Landscaping is another worthy outside renovation you don’t need experts for. Your lawn, bushes and garden deserve your time and attention because of its impact on property value. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) says you could see a 15% increase in home value compared to other houses in the area. 

You could hire the pros, but Hintlian says you can do your wallet a favor by taking the lawnmower and weedeater for yourself. 

“Professional landscaping services can be expensive, but with a bit of sweat equity, homeowners can improve curb appeal, plant gardens, or even install a simple patio or walkway themselves,” she said.

Renovation Experts Helping You Save Money

Remodeling and renovating bring major changes to your home and foster your desired aesthetic. Some projects hurt your wallet with expensive contractor work, but affordable means exist. Use advice from renovation experts on DIY upgrades to save money and feel accomplished with your work.

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