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Twelve ways to improve your home for under $500

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Not every home improvement has to cost thousands of dollars. There are plenty of things to do in your home without taking out a second mortgage.

In fact, when those tax refunds come in, it’s a great idea to reinvest that money in your home. We’ve put together a list of 12 projects you can do for under $500 and some budget ideas.

Keep in mind, some projects may require a little do-it-yourself skill and a few shopping trips.

1. Replace the old hardware on your front door

Don’t look for the cheapest door handle and deadbolt lock. You want one that’s bump-proof to deter burglars and one with a finish that will last a long time in the Arizona sun.

Budget: $150 and up

2. Install new outdoor lighting

Put in new path lighting for the front of your house, preferably by installing new LED fixtures. Path lights with LED bulbs come with the bulbs inside just as halogen systems do.

This is an easy DIY job.

Budget: Sets are $150 or more

3. Pep up the landscape in your front yard

If you favor desert gardening, make sure your yard is weed-free. If you have a more traditional look with a lawn, water and fertilize more regularly to keep it green.

If there are any big trees or bushes that obstruct the view of the house, you want to prune them back.  You can always spruce things up by adding some gravel as well.

4. Replace incandescent can lights with LEDs

If you don’t have to replace the mechanism inside the receptacle, it should not cost much. LEDs will help pay for themselves by saving energy.

Budget: $15 per bulb

5. Hide a mess

Set up a trellis and plant vines on it to block the view of the area where you store your trash cans or to hide pipes or wiring.

Budget: $500

6. Make your home safer

Install a security screen door on the front of the house. Be sure to invest in a good quality lock and deadbolt.

Budget: $500 or less

7. Plant a tree

Make it a desert tree, such as a mesquite or palo verde

Budget: $250 for a 15-gallon tree delivered and planted

8. Install a new toilet in the master bath

Most homeowners cannot do this by themselves, so it’s probably going to cost a bit more. It would be nice to change the toilets in other bathrooms as well.

Budget: $500, including toilet

9. Replace the faucet in the kitchen sink

Just be sure to buy a faucet with a finish that matches the finish used in other places in the kitchen, such as the drawer and cabinet knobs.

Budget: $100 or more, but you may have to hire a plumber, too

10. Hang a new chandelier or lighting fixture

Consider doing this in the kitchen or dining room or maybe even the bathroom

If the light is not too heavy, you might be able to do this yourself with a little help from a friend. Just be sure to turn off the power to the lighting fixture first.

Budget: $100 or more

11. Replace a ceiling fan

The old ones can get dusty and balky. Be sure to buy one that matches the lighting fixtures. This might not be a DIY job.

Budget: $150 or more

12. Hang a more exciting mirror in the powder room

All this job will take is a tape measure and some nails.

Budget: $200-300 or less

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