A recent survey by LightStream found that despite the coronavirus pandemic, 73% of homeowners are planning to renovate this year. And these homeowners are planning to spend big money, too — the survey found homeowners plan to spend an average of $11,851 on these renovations. These numbers might sound shocking in light of the financial hardships many Americans are facing due to the pandemic, but it seems the health crisis actually might be the reason so many are so motivated to renovate.

“As a result of COVID-19 shutdowns that closed offices, businesses, schools and more, self-isolation has forced Americans to take a much closer look at their homes,” Todd Nelson, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at LightStream, said in a news release. “Many have clearly decided that renovation remains the right move.”

If you’re one of the many homeowners who’s eager to update your home this fall, these are the best renovation projects to tackle.

Last updated: Sept. 3, 2020

1. Paint Your Home’s Exterior

Fall is the perfect time to give the exterior of your home a fresh coat of paint, said James Watson, marketing director at Omaha Homes For Cash, which specializes in house flips and renovations.

“Summer months are too hot and paint tends to get runny with humidity,” he said. “Depending on where you live, winter weather is not conducive to painting your house. Fall temperatures and the lower humidity tend to make it the perfect time to spruce up the outside of your house.”

How Much It Will Cost

The cost of the project will depend on the size of your home and whether you tackle it yourself.

“If you are a DIY person, you can get the job done on an average-sized house for around $1,000, and the curb appeal and ‘wow factor’ alone is well worth the investment,” Watson said.

2. Aerate and Overseed Turf

Now is the best time to prep your lawn for 2021, said Bryan Clayton, CEO and co-founder of GreenPal, which helps homeowners to find a lawn service provider.

“Aerate and overseed turf to make sure you’ll have a great looking lawn next year,” he said. “Fall is the absolute best time of year to do this as the temperatures are cool enough for the seed to germinate and get established for the following year.”

How Much It Will Cost

According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to aerate a lawn is $130 and the average cost to reseed a lawn is $964.

3. Clean Your Gutters

“Clear those gutters on the roof to avoid all kinds of problems, like wood-rotting along the roofline,” Clayton said. “You’ll be glad you did.”

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How Much It Will Cost

Your gutters should be cleaned one to three times annually, according to HomeAdvisor. The average cost to hire a professional to clean your gutters is $157.

4. Winterize Your Sprinklers and Pool

If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures during the winter, now is the time to winterize your irrigation system and pool if you have one, Clayton said.

How Much It Will Cost

The average cost to winterize a sprinkler system is $81, according to HomeAdvisor. If you have a pool, expect to pay between $150 and $300 for winterization, the company said. Paying for these services now could save you money in the long run.

“Failing to get this done before your first frost could cost you thousands,” Clayton said.

5. Repair Your Roof, If Needed

“One of the best ways to prepare your home for the winter is to check out your roof and make sure there isn’t any damage to be fixed or debris that needs to be removed,” said Jesse Silkoff, founder of MyRoofingPal.

If there is work to be done, fall is a good time to take care of it.

How Much It Will Cost

If your roof needs repair, the cost of this project will depend on the scope of the work. The average roof repair cost ranges from $353 to $1,435, with a national average of $887, HomeAdvisor reports. Small roof repairs tend to cost between $150 and $400.

6. Draft-Proof Your Home

“When it comes to preparing your home for the winter, you want it to be draft-proof,” said Andy Kolodgie, co-owner of The House Guys. “It is important to check the doors, windows and chimneys for air leakage. Depending on where you discover an air leak, you should consider adding a door snake if a door has a gap, caulking windows if your windows are not sealed properly or using spray foam if there is a non-visible leak such as a dryer exhaust vent. Blocking the breeze will prevent warm air from leaking outside.”

Kolodgie also said to double-check any openings in your attic.

“Most people insulate the whole attic but forgo adding insulation on top of the opening to the attic,” he said. “Having that 9-square-foot area insulated is a worthy task to add to your winter preparation list.”

How Much It Will Cost

The cost of these projects ranges from $20 to $200.

“These draft-proofing methods won’t add value to your home, but you will save a considerable amount in energy savings during the winter months,” Kolodgie said.

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7. Replace Windows and Doors

Sometimes caulk just won’t cut it. If your doors or windows have gotten warped, now might be a good time to replace them.

“Over time, wood can swell and not fit into the window or door frame properly,” said Jen Stark, founder of the gardening and home improvement blog Happy DIY Home. “When this happens, drafts come into the house and your energy bill shoots up as you try to heat the house.”

How Much It Will Cost

“Replacing your windows costs around $175 to $700 per window, and doors cost around $600 for the national average,” Stark said.

These improvements can pay off when it comes to selling your home, she said.

“Putting in new windows and doors to seal out drafts can boost your home’s value by $8,000 to $10,000, and adding new exterior doors can boost your home’s value by giving your home more curb appeal,” Stark said.

8. Install a Solar-Powered Water Heater

It can be quite costly to install solar panel arrays to power your whole home. A cheaper alternative is to install a solar-powered water heater.

“The solar panels used for a heater are smaller, simpler to install and easier to remove during roof maintenance,” Kolodgie said. “This is essential to do before winter, as you don’t want snow on your roof for installation.”

How Much It Will Cost

“A solar-powered water heater including installation costs around $4,000,” Kolodgie said. “This will add minimal value to your home — roughly $1,000 — but there is a federal tax credit for solar panels and you will save money on heating.”

9. Replace Your HVAC Filter or Have Your System Serviced

Replacing your HVAC filter is a small project, but a worthy one, Kolodgie said.

“These are inexpensive — around $10,” he said. “Any amount of debris trapped in the filter will cause a decrease in airflow, creating an energy deficiency.”

Although it’s more costly than simply replacing your filter, if your HVAC system hasn’t been cleaned in the past 15 years, consider getting it serviced this fall.

“There is a lot of dust and debris which will slow down the flow of the air and cause heat to escape in places where it is not efficient for your home,” Kolodgie said. “Further, doing this will also help if you are hypoallergenic.”

How Much It Will Cost

“Servicing your HVAC will cost about $100 and could save you from an expensive repair in the winter,” Kolodgie said.

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10. Install Smart Thermostats

“The fall is also a great time to switch over your basic thermostats to smart thermostats,” Kolodgie said. “You can control your heat remotely and conserve more energy while you’re away from home.”

How Much It Will Cost

“A smart thermostat such as the Google Nest or ecobee will cost you $200 and add the full value back into your home if you plan to sell before your version becomes outdated,” Kolodgie said.

11. Convert Your Garage Into Additional Living Space

“This is the ideal time to convert your garage into a functional living space that works for you,” said David Cusick, chief strategy officer at House Method. “With remote work more popular than ever and commuting becoming a thing of the past, homeowners are also looking to add more space as they live through lockdowns and quarantines. The garage is a great place to start.”

How Much It Will Cost

Cusick said the cost will depend on the scope of the project. If you want to convert your garage into a full guest house with a kitchenette and bathroom, the project could cost up to $30,000. If it makes more sense for your needs to convert your garage into an office space, expect to spend around $5,000.

“This kind of project can be costly and may require regulatory checks from your local building authority,” he said. “However, adding this extra space could increase your home’s value by 10-15%. Moreover, you can rent out the space or put it on Airbnb to start making money immediately after the project’s completion.”

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12. Update Kitchen Cabinets and Countertops

“The fall and winter are filled with great food and drinks in the kitchen, so why not spend some time updating your cabinets and countertops?” said Chris Gold, CEO and owner of Chris Buys Homes in St. Louis.

Not only will this project make your home more inviting for holiday guests, but it can increase the resale value of your home when it’s time to sell.

“As a realtor, I know how much attention is put on the kitchen cabinets when showing a house,” Gold said. “If they are outdated or ugly, people instantly start talking about how much money and time it will take to replace them. If they are modern and new, people get excited and rave about how much they love them.”

Gold recommends replacing cabinets and countertops, rather than just painting them, even though this is a bigger undertaking.

“Sometimes [paint] can help, but most times it honestly makes them look worse,” he said.

How Much It Will Cost

Gold said kitchen cabinets typically cost between $200 and $600 per linear foot, and the entire project is likely to cost between $4,000 and $6,000.

13. Finish Your Basement

An unfinished or underused basement can be transformed into an entertainment space for your family — and now is the time to take on this project, said Romana King, real estate expert and director of content for Zolo, Canada’s largest independent brokerage.

“As the days get shorter and the weather gets wetter and colder, we are all going to end up staying inside for longer and longer periods,” she said. “To help, homeowners should consider creating a dedicated ‘entertainment zone’ — such as a family room, den or multi-use playroom.”

King said a basement is often the ideal area to create this space.

How Much It Will Cost

King acknowledged that this could be a major and expensive undertaking — she estimated it will cost $60,000 to $70,000 — but said the investment could be well worth it.

“Homeowners will have the benefit of a communal gathering space where the family can either relax or let off steam, and between 70% to 75% of the costs will be recouped with the added value to the home,” she said.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 13 Best Home Improvement Projects To Tackle This Fall

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