backyard gardening

Top DIY Renovations To Keep Social Distancing

Chances are, the more time you’ve been spending at home sheltering in place, the more acquainted you’ve become with all the quirky flaws in your home: the sputtering air conditioner, the missing paint spots in the kitchen you’re wondering how you’ve never noticed before, the scuffed hardwood in the family room, and so on.

And while some states have deemed home construction, including remodeling, to be an essential business, that doesn’t necessarily mean you magically have a spending budget for big projects—or even want to potentially put you and your family at risk with contractors flowing in and out of your house.

Fortunately, there is some middle ground here: DIY home renovations that require limited social interaction and encourage you and your household to work together. Taking on home improvement projects could help turn all this extra time at home into something more productive and won’t necessarily require a huge tool chest—or wallet.

Landscaping or Home Gardening

A garden—some dirt, some seeds, some flowers, maybe some vegetables, and a whole lot of patience—may not sound like much work, but DIY projects could come with a perk of adding structure to your time amid uncertainty.

They may also create a new real, physical space in which to spend time and occupy hours during leisure time and looking for something positive to do that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. Now that the weather is turning warmer, there’s no better time to add a little more greenery and fresh air to your daily life.

Refreshing (or adding new) landscaping can also be a great way to introduce native species of plants to your yard. Native plants tend to be hardier, meaning they can survive or thrive even if you don’t have a green thumb, and can add a fresh look to the exterior of your home.

They also tend to be much more eco-friendly—they may require less maintenance, water, fertilizer, and other things that can impact the environment and your wallet. In the long run, this can be a cheap DIY home renovation.

Incorporating native wildflowers and greenery can be a unique addition to a water feature that might turn out to be a relaxing oasis in your yard.

Property improvements like this sometimes contribute to a home’s value, not to mention provide entertainment while watching friendly birds and critters that may be attracted by it.

The IRS deems landscaping and any other improvements that “add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses” can help increase the basis value (total capital investment in the property) of your home further down the road. It is recommended that you consult with your tax advisor to learn more. You could also use our home improvement ROI estimator to find out the resale value of your next home improvement project.

Converting Your Garage Into the Perfect Entertainment Center

Maybe you’ve discovered that your home isn’t quite as spacious as you thought—especially with everyone cooped up together all the time. Quarantine is a perfect time to rethink how your home fits with the way you’re living now.

Even if you were working from home before the coronavirus, now is a good opportunity to think about how to further separate your workspace from your precious, maybe even rare, decompression and leisure time into a new “venue.”

If you have empty space in your garage (or another room), now might be a good time to sort through (or maybe get rid of) whatever’s in all those old boxes.

You might even consider having a virtual garage sale as part of the process. And if working from home makes you feel like you already work too much as it is, this might be a good opportunity to convert a new space into something that changes up the scenery even more.

Some ideas could be a mini movie theater or gaming area. Whether this winds up looking like a sports den, a workshop, or just a quiet place to explore new hobbies is entirely up to your imagination and preferences.

If your renovated garage is spacious enough, it could mean more opportunities for socially distanced get-togethers, where there is room to spread out and still enjoy each other’s company. A permanent conversion from a garage to a living space such as adding walls or a toilet area may require permitting and affect the resale value of the home. Do your research by checking your county website regarding any need for permits and consult with your neighborhood real estate expert regarding any change in home value.

Painting Interior Rooms

Perhaps the least time and labor intensive DIY project that typically has a huge impact on the look and feel of a home is interior painting.

Whether a simple touch-up paint job to target scuffed or faded areas or an entirely new color, all you need is a drop cloth to protect the floor, a ladder, a can of paint, some paintbrushes, and some painter’s tape to cover up and protect molding from paint drips. Add an eager, bored helper or assistant already living with you and you’re good to go.
Painting a room—or even just one wall—can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and therapeutic simplicity of doing something constructive with your hands—something you can see in real time as having an impact.

If you choose to paint in a new color, it’s also a chance to rethink the vibe of a room or your entire home—which can in turn lead to a burst of inspiration and creativity in redecorating. Either way, it’s a peaceful DIY home renovation to pass some hours.

Build a Gazebo

If your construction skills are up to it, building a gazebo has the extra benefit of creating space outside where you might have been spending a lot of time over the last few months. The importance of beginning with legal and safety aspects, like checking your city website for “distance from fence requirements” and whether there is a need for securing permits and locating utilities, cannot be overstated. Some home improvement retailers sell DIY gazebo kits to make the job easier.

Ideas abound online, from small and cozy to spacious enough for the whole family, and from basic to fancy. Keeping it simple could also keep the cost down. If constructing a permanent structure like this is outside of your comfort zone, you might want to consider a semi-permanent gazebo that requires less work, but delivers an acceptable amount of shade from the summer sun.

Preparing for the Future, Now

Even though you may not have planned on spending a good chunk of 2020 stuck indoors, it’s a sensible approach to riding out the coronavirus pandemic.

Because you can only do so much nothing for so long, this time can also be a great time to address some DIY home renovations that may have been knocking around on your mental list for far too long.

Summer can be a good time to get started on outdoor projects like gardening and building projects since the weather is typically more cooperative than at other times of the year. When it’s too hot to get much work done outside, tackling indoor projects like painting can take priority. When you’re finished, you’ll have that relaxing outdoor space to retreat to!

If you’ve been eyeing a project for a while, but are coming up a little short on cash or just don’t want to dip into savings or an emergency fund, an unsecured home improvement loan, such as SoFi’s personal loans, could help open the doors to doing some serious, long overdue repairs and renovations.

Check out a SoFi home improvement loan to make your someday dream home more of a near-term reality.

Learn More

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

ABOUT SoFi SoFi helps people achieve financial independence to realize their ambitions. Our products for borrowing, saving, spending, investing, and protecting give our more than one million members fast access to tools to get their money right. SoFi membership comes with the key essentials for getting ahead, including career advisors and connection to a thriving community of like-minded, ambitious people. For more information, visit Want an easy and convenient way to manage your financial life? Get the SoFi app. For iOS and Android.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender