12 ways to invest tax refund in your house

Buying and Selling

By Rosie Romero | March 31st, 2017

The IRS sent out more than 111 million refunds in 2016 to U.S. taxpayers. Maybe you won’t get enough to buy a new car or a trip to Hawaii. But even a smaller refund can be invested in some improvements for your home.

So here are suggestions for spending your 2017 refund in your house, home, castle or cabin. Some are fun things but some are highly practical and can make a difference in your life. Hopefully, our advice will inspire you to fill out your return soon.

Under $500

Have your front door refinished or repainted. This should cost about $500. Replacing the front door would be great, but that can be up to $1,395 for a new steel entry door or $3,259 for a new fiberglass model. So, if you still like that front door, just refurbish it. By the way, you can recoup from 60 percent to 80 percent of the cost of a new door when you sell your house, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine.

Make sure that the doorknob and lock work properly on your front door. Replace the lockset ($300-$400 for a higher quality set) if the old one looks worn and chipped. You may wish to do the same job on any other exterior doors. Any deadbolts or locks you buy need to be “bump-key” resistant to keep out intruders.

Pick out a new color for the trim on your house, like the fascia boards and edges around windows. You’ll need a gallon bucket of high-quality exterior paint ($50-$80). You might need more to do the garage door, too. For exterior paint, we recommend good preparation, a primer and 100 percent acrylic base paint.

Plant a desert-loving tree like a mesquite or palo verde. This should cost about $250 for a 15-gallon tree delivered and planted. Research says planting a tree may increase the value of your home as well as its curb appeal, especially in Arizona where we’re all hungry for shade.

Buy crushed granite to spread around plants in your front yard. A couple of tons will cost less than about $500 and that may include hauling and installing. Your planting areas will look tidier and there will be fewer weeds.

$500 to $1,000

Buy a new outdoor barbecue. It’s going to be too hot soon to cook in the kitchen, and after all, your old grill may be looking pretty shabby. Good quality portable gas grills start at about $500.

Have new storage areas built in your garage. Is your garage looking disheveled? Then maybe use the refund to get cabinets installed in that garage. You can spend $300 or so on racks and shelving and put it up yourself. But $600 or $700 worth of cabinets, done by an expert, could make a huge difference.

Install a fire pit in your backyard. Gathering around a fire pit is a great way to spend more time outdoors in the evening; these cozy pits are becoming a near necessity for the ambiance in Arizona backyards. Have a stone fire pit built for about $1,200 or do it yourself with a kit for a few hundred. You can use propane to light your fire or extend a gas line (a more expensive option). But be sure to hire a licensed plumber to install the gas connections.

$1,000 to $2,000

Add fiberglass insulation to your attic. This is one of those improvements that Remodeling Magazine says can greatly add to the value of your home. Add fiberglass loose fill insulation on top of existing insulation to get to an R-38 level, according to the magazine. This will improve the comfort level in your home and save some money on your heating and cooling bills.

Redo a small powder room. If you don’t have to replace the floor or the toilet, this is a job that can be done for about $1,500. You can get a vanity off-the-shelf in a big box store or order one that’s a little better quality. Then buy a sink, new faucets and hardware at a plumbing supply store and use a low-cost remnant piece of quartz or granite for the countertop. Then repaint the walls yourself.

$2,000 and up

Install a new garage door. This can cost from about $1,700 to $3,500. Higher end garage doors will include heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks and have foam insulation, windows with insulated glass and galvanized steel hinges and ball-bearing urethane rollers. New garage doors, just like entry doors can recoup more of their cost when you sell your house, according to Remodeling magazine.

Buy a new kitchen range or dishwasher or maybe both. Even if you can’t afford a kitchen remodel, you can use your refund to upgrade your kitchen experience.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8-11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, KQNA-AM (1130) in Prescott and KAZM-AM (780) in Sedona, KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff and KNST-AM (790) in Tucson.

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