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Complete those small renovation projects

Date posted:  8/6/15 10:30:00 AM A bathroom remodel often leads to a solid return on investment.

While many Americans will spend their Labor Day at a barbecue with friends and family - or in front of their computers finalizing their fantasy football roster for the upcoming NFL season - the three-day weekend is also a great time to finish up any home improvement projects started earlier in the summer.

Completing home-improvement projects can make a homeowner's life less complicated by accounting for complications like repairing bathroom grout. They can also be as simple as organizing the garage or improving curb appeal through lawn maintenance. But finding the right home improvement project to tackle can be tricky, so here are a few tips to remember:

Try to do-it-yourself
This Old House is trying to remind Americans that they don't need to spend their life savings to improve the appeal and value of their home. Some projects can be done in-house, meaning it's a good idea roll up those sleeves and get to work.

Roy and Beth Shore are prime examples. The couple worked side by side and completely remodeled their 1980 Colonial Revival into a distinctive home, according to This Old House.

When the project was nearing its conclusion, Roy Shore had one last do-it-yourself project to complete: the front door. He really wanted to go surprise his wife with a completed project, so he went to work with an expensive piece of wood while she was away from home.

"I really wanted the cedar, so I used sweat equity to justify the cost," Roy Shore said. "I had just put the first coat of paint on the portico by the time Beth was rolling up to the front door. She loved it!"

A new front entryway is often viewed as one of the best returns on investment for homeowners. Not only does it improve the structure of the entranceway, but it also adds curb appeal, something that should not be overlooked by potential sellers.

Hit the bathroom
A bathroom remodeling project is another solid return on investment, and it's currently popular among homeowners because it has much less of an upfront cost compared to a kitchen remodel or adding another room to improve a home's square footage.

But for Jessica Bell, redoing her bathroom wasn't about a monetary investment.

"I needed a project to keep me busy while my husband was deployed," Jessica told This Old House about her husband, Army Major Lawson Bell, who spent a year in Iraq.

Jessica Bell painted the walls, tiled the floor, added a marble countertop and put the finishing touches on with new hardware. She said initially, she was doing one step at a time but didn't like the way the project was turning out.

"I learned to wait and do the whole project at once to avoid such mishaps," she said.

Cash-strapped homeowners looking to improve their home with a renovation project should consider a home equity line of credit. This line of credit asks a homeowner to use their home as collateral for a payment line that can be used toward a car payment, student loans or a home remodel.

What to avoid on small projects
According to Steve Watson, host of HGTV's Don't Sweat It, one way a home renovation can go sour quickly is when a homeowner doesn't the right materials.

"One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation (is that) they try to be cheap when they buy materials," Watson said. "The bottom line is, you're going to get what you pay for."