10. Wood fencing ($2,858)
Pet containment? Landscaping accent? Backyard privacy? Another layer of home security? Whatever the reason or reasons, wood fencing will rise to the challenge. From small picket fences to tall fence paneling, there is a wood fence for every property. Take a look through magazines and around the neighborhood. There are more options within your budget than you realize. (Find highly rated fence-installers in your area.)
9. Heat pump ($4,860)
More energy-efficient than most furnace and A/C units, a basic heat pump is a great cost-saving home-improvement option for supplemental heating and cooling. If you live in a mild climate or opt for a top-of-the-line product, this single, innovative device can take care of all your heating and cooling needs. (Find highly rated heating and cooling contractors in your area.)
8. Exterior house painting ($3,011)
It's hard to argue against the difference between washed-out, sun-bleached siding and one with a fresh sheen of paint. But more than curb appeal is at stake for this home improvement: You need a fresh coat of paint or sealant every two to 10 years for wood siding and every 15-25 years for fiber-cement. Take the time with your contractor to discuss the quality and cost difference between different paint products. (Find highly rated house painters in your area.)
7. Basement waterproofing ($4,012)
Although a bigger space and bigger budget, arguably it's easier to serve as your own project manager for a basement renovation than a kitchen or bathroom home-improvement. Start with waterproofing and plumbing, and you can finish the remodeling component next year when you've had a chance to replenish your financial resources. (Find highly rated waterproofing inspectors in your area.)
Installing a sprinkler system should be about water conservation and a healthy lawn. Let convenience be a guilty pleasure: Automatic systems will water your lawn during the late morning and early afternoon, when lawns are at their greatest need. Watering the lawn when you get home from work is a recipe for fungus and disease. Plus, these systems will ensure even water coverage. (Find highly rated sprinkler system contractors in your area.)
5. Landscaping ($4,079)
Of course, for a truly eco-friendly lawn, you should enlist the services of a landscaping company. There are many beautiful lawn covers besides fescue and Bermuda. Shrubs, colored gravel, gardens, and synthetic lawn covers are just some of the possibilities. In conjunction with comprehensive landscape design, you'll make your neighbor's Kentucky bluegrass look like amateur hour. (Find highly rated landscapers in your area.)
4. Stone countertops ($4,347)
It's hard to underestimate the importance of countertops in a home improvement project when it comes to the look and function of a kitchen. Stone countertops continue to reign supreme in this arena, but don't get herded into the mentality that granite is necessarily the best choice. For performance and value, a strong case could be made for quartz as top dog. (Find highly rated stone and tile contractors in your area.)
3. Concrete flatwork for driveway or patio ($3,650)
How can a new driveway or patio for less than five grand not make this list? Homeowners who already have these residential home improvements tend to take them for granted, but off-street parking (that doesn't involve gravel kicking up underneath your car) and a flat, hard surface to place a grill or lounge chair is the epitome of sensible luxury. (Find highly rated concrete contractors in your area.)
2. Concrete stamping and finishing ($4,260)
Interested in a driveway or patio but not crazy about the look or feel of concrete? Too many people run into the arms of brick and stone (average cost: $5,965) without realizing that they can upgrade their flatwork, create a nearly perfect imitation of natural stone or brick, and save somewhere in the ballpark of $2,000 with concrete stamping. (Find highly rated concrete contractors in your area.)
1. Laminate flooring ($3,899)
The top home improvement project for this list is laminate flooring and the reason is clear. To install a new floor that rivals hardwood for performance and visual appeal for less than five grand is as close as you can get to a can't-miss home improvement. Just be sure to take the time to look at different laminate products, and don't get overconfident about your ability to install this flooring on your own. (Find highly rated flooring contractors in your area.)
Final Tip: This budget size is particularly susceptible to homeowners who look for the cheapest option, only to be disappointed with lackluster results. Nearly any project on this list can be the source of great aggravation and greater expenditures down the road, if you cut the wrong corners. Stay diligent when looking at potential products and contractors.
Want more home improvement ideas? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you:
- Top Home Improvement Projects Under $500
- Top Home Improvement Projects Under $1,000
- Home Improvement Mistakes: How to Fix and Avoid
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