Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements

Whether you’re prepping your house to go on the market or looking for ways to maximize its long-term appreciation, these nine home improvement projects are great ways to add function, beauty, and real value to your home.

The best part is, once you’ve secured the materials, most of these renovations can be completed over the course of a weekend. And they don’t require a lot of specialized skills or experience. So grab your toolbox, then get ready to boost your home’s appeal AND investment potential!

1. Spruce Up Your Landscaping

Landscaping improvements can increase a home’s value by 10-12%.1 But which outdoor features do buyers care about most? According to a survey of Realtors, a healthy lawn is at the top of their list. If your lawn is lacking, overseeding or laying new sod can be a worthwhile investment—with an expected return of 417% and 143% respectively.1

Planting flowers is another great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal. And if you choose a perennial variety, your blooms should return year after year. For an even longer-term impact, consider planting a tree. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a mature tree can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home.2

2. Clean The Exterior

When it comes to making your house shine, a sparkling facade can be just as important as a clean interior. Real estate professionals estimate that washing the outside of a house can add as much as $15,000 to its sales price.3

A rented pressure washer from your local home improvement store can help you remove built-up dirt and grime from your home’s exterior, walkway, and driveway. Just be sure to read the instructions carefully—and only use it on surfaces that can withstand the intensity. When in doubt, a scrub brush and bucket of sudsy water will often do the trick.

3. Add A Fresh Coat Of Paint

New paint can have a big impact on both the appearance and value of a property. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to revitalize a home’s exterior, update its interior, and make it appear larger and brighter. The best part? Painting is relatively easy and inexpensive!

To get the maximum return at resale, stick with a modern but neutral color palette that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. According to a recent survey of home design experts, cool neutrals are a safe bet when it comes to interior paint. And respondents chose white and gray as the best exterior paint colors to use when selling a home.4 However, it’s important to consider a property’s architecture, existing fixtures, and regional design preferences, as well.   

4. Install Smart Home Technology

In a recent survey, 78% of real estate professionals said their buyer clients were willing to pay more for a home with smart technology features.5 The most requested smart devices? Thermostats (77%), smoke detectors (75%), home security cameras (66%), and locks (63%).6

The good news is, many of these gadgets are fairly easy to install. And some of them, including smart thermostats and light bulbs, will pay for themselves over time by making your home more energy efficient. In fact, many manufacturers report that smart thermostats can cut back on heating and cooling costs by 10-20%.7  

If you already own a smart speaker, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, choose devices that will pair with your existing technology. This will enable you to create a truly integrated (and in many cases voice-activated) smart home experience.

5. Modernize Your Window Treatments

Smart—or motorized—blinds are also growing in popularity, and several manufacturers make models you can order and install on your own. But they’re not the only way to modernize your window treatments. 

If you have old aluminum blinds, consider replacing them with plantation shutters, which are energy efficient, durable, and have strong buyer appeal.8 Roman and roller shades are another stylish alternative, and they come in a variety of colors and fabrics, which you can personalize to meet your design and privacy preferences.

Fortunately, upgrading your blinds has gotten easier and less expensive in recent years. There are a number of retailers that specialize in affordable window coverings that are simple to measure and hang yourself.

6. Replace Outdated Fixtures

Drastically transform the look and feel of your home by swapping out dingy and dated fixtures for contemporary alternatives. Start by assessing your current light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, door knobs, and even switch plates. Then prioritize replacing those that are particularly outdated or in highly-visible areas, such as your entryway or kitchen.

Even if your home is fairly new, consider trading your builder-grade fixtures for higher-end options to give it a more upscale appearance. And forget the old rule about sticking to one metal tone throughout your property. According to designers, mixing metal finishes can add interest and character to a space.9

For more designer insights and decor trends, contact us for a free copy of our recent report: “Top 5 Home Design Trends for a New Decade.”

7. Upgrade Your Bathroom Mirror

A minor bathroom remodel offers one of the best returns on investment, with a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1 you spend.10 We’ve already explored several improvements you can make to your bathroom: new paint, fixtures, and hardware. Now complete the look by upgrading your vanity’s mirror.

Before you purchase a new mirror, examine your existing one to see how it is attached to the wall. Some vanity mirrors are glued to the wall and difficult to remove without shattering the glass or damaging the sheetrock behind it.11 

If you prefer to keep your existing mirror, you can paint the frame—or add one if it’s currently frameless. There are several online retailers that will send you the frame components cut to your specifications, which you can assemble and mount yourself. Much like a work of art, your vanity mirror serves as a focal point for your bathroom, so let your creativity shine through!

8. Shampoo Your Carpet

Carpet is notorious for trapping dust, dirt, and allergens. It’s one of the reasons that most buyers prefer hard surface flooring.12 But if you love your carpet, or you’re not ready to invest in an alternative, make an effort to keep it clean and odor-free.

To properly maintain your carpet, you should vacuum it weekly. Experts also recommend a deep shampoo at least every two years.13 Fortunately, this is a cheap and easy DIY project you can knock out in about 20 minutes per room. According to Consumer Reports, you can rent a machine and purchase cleaning fluid and supplies for around $90. With an average return on your investment of 169%, it’s well worth the effort and expense.14

9. Customize Your Closet

Real estate professionals estimate that a closet remodel can add $2500 to a home’s selling price.And while a professional renovation can cost upwards of $6000, there are many high-quality DIY closet systems you can customize and install yourself.15 

Experts recommend taking a thorough inventory of your wardrobe and accessories before you get started. Make sure frequently-worn pieces are easy to reach, and store seasonal and seldom-used items on high shelves. Place shoe racks near the closet entrance so they are easy to access.16 A little planning can go a long way toward building a closet that you (and your future buyers!) will love.


We’ve been talking averages. But the truth is, the actual impact of a home improvement project will vary depending on your particular home and neighbourhood. Before you get started, contact us to schedule a free virtual consultation. We can help you determine which upgrades will offer the greatest return on your effort and investment.


  1. HomeLight -

  2. National Association of Realtors -

  3. -

  4. Fixr -

  5. T3 Sixty -

  6. Consumer Reports -

  7. American Council for Energy Efficient Economy

  8. Forbes -

  9. Insider -

  10. Zillow -

  11. Lowes -

  12. HomeLight -

  13. Angie’s List - 

  14. HomeLight -

  15. National Association of Realtors -

EasyClosets -

Technology and the Future of Canadian Dairy Farming

The image of the old weathered farmer, toiling away in fields and stalls, enduring unpredictable hardships, is just that—it’s old. In reality, today’s Canadian dairy farmers have evolved their farms and barns from those of their parents and previous generations. Find out how the introduction of smart technology on the farm is shaping the future of Canadian dairy farming.

New tools of the trade

Dairy farming has been one of the cornerstones of agriculture in Canada ever since early settlers arrived from Europe centuries ago. And we’ve come a long way from the humble times of milking stools and pails. Modern dairy farming requires modern tools. Nicolas Mailloux, a 3rd generation dairy farmer, studied industrial electronics, and puts that knowledge to good use every day. Along with Nicolas, many dairy farmers have upgraded their farms with high-tech tools: milking robots, feed-pushing robots, GPS-enabled tractors, text alerts to notify farmers about calving cows, and more.

Nicolas Mailloux, Mailloux et Fils Farm“I use my [Industrial Electronics] Diploma every day, but I never imagined it would be this useful,” explains Nicolas Mailloux from Mailloux et Fils Farm.

Work smarter, not harder

With technology assisting in some manual tasks, and aiding in the collection of data, the role of dairy farmers is changing. Through technology Canadian dairy farmers are finding ways to improve the health of their cows and milk production, by taking the data inputs and optimizing every little detail. Data is being used to detect illness early on, allowing farmers to intervene sooner and provide the necessary care for their cows more quickly than was possible before, therefore improving their quality of life. Ana-Maria Martin of Lorami Farm sees the benefits of data. Her small herd is able to produce the same number of litres of milk that would be expected of a larger herd. And this is good news for not just the farmers, but for the environment. Having smaller herds and efficient milk production processes means a smaller carbon footprint.

Technology with a human touch

While technology is contributing to advancing the dairy industry, what will continue to stay core to Canadian dairy farming are the values of passion and compassion. It’s the reason why dairy farmers invest in technology that focuses on the health, comfort, and well-being of the herd. Technology is not only allowing farmers to optimize milk production, it also improves the well-being of the cows. By adopting technology like motion-activated cow brushes, cow health trackers, and cow pedometers, Canadian dairy farmers are making it clear that future of dairy farming includes providing the highest level of animal care.  

Technology should be seen as an important tool, and not a replacement for dairy farmers. New technology and the data captured will ensure that the next generation of dairy farmers will have the knowledge and tools to continue to produce the highest quality milk for all Canadians.


10 Things to Love about Rural Living

Things to Love About Rural Living: After living for a long time in urban and suburban environments, I am now living a rural lifestyle. Is this for everybody? Maybe not. But I sure do enjoy rural living 52 weeks a year in a place where I used to vacation for two weeks a year. Apart from a few years that I spent as an urban dweller many years ago, I have lived most of my life in the country. For me, it is the only real choice. If you’re like me, then you know what I’m talking about.

City living doesn’t have a lot going for it if you are trying to set up a homestead. There is noise, pollution, traffic, and an excessive number of people. None of these are appealing to me as I prefer a slower, stress-free pace. 

Also, a benefit to rural living is having land and space. When I lived in the big city, I just had room for a small garden and tiny workshop area in my garage. There wasn’t the feeling of being in touch with my surroundings the way I was when living a rural lifestyle.

My life in the country is different in virtually every way. Surrounded by the soft sounds of nature, I have plenty of opportunities to contemplate my thoughts or carry on a conversation. The air is crisp and clear.

When the sun goes down, I feel like I have a front seat in the audience for viewing the entire Milky Way. I sometimes go for days without seeing another person except those who live with me, yet I’m never lonely.

There’s just so much to see and do. My garden always needs tending, and I have animals that make for incredibly good company.

Of course, one of the best things about country living is being able to be so close to nature. During my years in the city, I felt nearly cut off from nature. All of my walks involved asphalt and concrete. Seeing some grass, let alone walking on it, was rare.

The trees I saw tended to be less than impressive, and flowers were nearly unheard of. Things are incredibly different where I live now.

For miles around, I can explore pastures, meadows and forests. The gently rolling landscape is just perfect for enjoying a healthy walk, and you can bet that I’m out there pretty nearly 365 days a year.

I will admit that as I have gotten older, the terrain has become a little more difficult to handle. It’s only natural that after many years of activity I would experience some joint stiffness and other mild complaints. We were fortunate our home is a ranch style, without stairs. But on the other hand, rural living keeps me moving. I have a reason to go outside and be active. I have things to do and places to do them that I didn’t have when I lived in an urban area.

10 Things to Love About Rural Living:

I don’t have to spend 10% of each day commuting.

For years, I commuted in the morning, and then again at night. Like many people, I repeated the cycle five days a week. What a waste of time, energy, and emotional well-being. Nowadays, my vehicle of choice is a tractor, and there’s hardly any traffic!

Certainly, it helps that I’m retired now, but many people these days are making their living working from home. As long as you have high-speed internet, you can work in a rural setting just as easily as living in a high-rise condo downtown.

I am happy when I wake up.

I don’t dread a new day. Each day is a new one full of adventure, projects and challenges. The old routine called the “daily grind” is history. I have the opportunity to learn about new hobbies and the space to do them. When I lived in the city, in my spare time at home, I was limited in what I could do.

I live in a safe environment.

I leave my keys in my truck. My house is unlocked. My dogs are the best doorbell I’ve ever had! It’s so quiet, when someone drives up my driveway, I often hear them. It’s amazing to have my windows open and enjoy fresh air.

I know the history of much of my food nowadays.

No more worry about food scares and where my food is coming from. My food doesn’t have unknown additives, pesticides, hormones, enhancers, and other stuff that just isn’t good for you.

I will lively live a longer life than if I had stayed in the city. My food has flavor, too. If you ever grow tomatoes or grow carrots … anything to eat… you’ll notice the difference from what you buy in the supermarket.

Learn about what grows in your area, and you can start planting.

Things are growing all around me.

I am surrounded by real life—living things. I can look at my garden and watch my own livestock from my kitchen window. On my way into town one day, I saw literally hundreds of deer and wild turkeys.

I really enjoy watching the eagles soaring above me as I work on my property. All of this is very calming. It makes me appreciate the wonder of each day in ways I didn’t when I was rushing here and there.

I’m still learning about the trees, bushes and plants on my property. Each season, I gain new skills and want to plant more things. Next year, I am setting up a small orchard with irrigation (after I buy a second rainwater cistern). This is something I love about rural living. I can learn about new plants and grow different types of food, and I have the room to do it.

Things to Love About Rural Living

Things to Love About Rural Living

My kids are learning about life.

When kids live in a rural area, they have the opportunity to know where their food is coming from. Even more, they are responsible for some of that. They are able to follow their desires and passions, whether it is growing food, flowers, or tending animals. Through this, kids learn responsibility, following steps to get results, and learning to become self-sufficient.

They run around and play, and I don’t have to worry. They no longer “have nothing to do,” and spend less time playing video games.

My family is somewhat protected from potential issues in the future.

All is not well in the economic, political and global environments. Unemployment, home foreclosures, civil unrest… are things really getting better? No. The consequences of all of this will be hitting the urban areas much more than the rural areas. I can close myself off from the world and not miss anything. In many ways, it doesn’t affect me as I go about my business on my little bit of land.

I can raise animals.

If you’re an animal lover or want to raise them for food, you can do it.

Many people move to a rural living environment for raising livestock or to start raising backyard chickens without worrying about HOA’s and other neighborhood or city restrictions. In addition, you likely won’t need to worry about a rooster annoying your neighbors.

You may choose to raise animals for a meat source or to sell. 

In addition, in my rural setting, I can be catching a fish in thirty minutes or hunting in five. For certain, I couldn’t do that in my suburban neighborhood.

We live more sustainably.

In addition to acquiring new skills and hobbies on my rural property, I have been able to live more sustainably. I never would have thought to start composting when I lived in the city but here it feels like a natural, easy thing to do. I’m more used to using more of what I have and not wasting.

I learned about solar panels and had them installed on the roof of our home and have lowered our energy bills. In addition, I set up a rainwater collection system to capture rainwater. We use this water all year for many things. It’s an ongoing resource: We use the water, and it rains, and we collect more rainwater.

In addition, we grow our own vegetables. I had a small area when I lived in the city but now, I have lots of space and can maximize the sunlight.

There’s a big space for my workshop, and I’ve learned to build raised garden beds from pallets. I’ve also built a lot of furniture. Now, before I buy something, I look up directions for how to make it myself. Many times, I can.

We are always learning new skills. Like I said above, we are starting an orchard next year. We are using this time to learn about different types of food-producing trees. Many people make turn their hobbies into making money farming through multiple income streams

I know my neighbors.

While I lived in closer proximity to my neighbors when I lived in an urban setting, I know my neighbors more now that they are farther away. We help each other with projects or just stand around and talk. When we pass on the road, they always make time to stop and say hello. In my last neighborhood, I barely knew or even saw my neighbors.


This was an unexpected thing I’ve grown to love about rural living… being part of a community and feeling other’s people’s joys and sorrows like they are my own. There’s a real sense of community. Now, some people may prefer to be more off to themselves, and that’s okay too. For the most part, if you want to be social, you will find it. If you don’t, your neighbors will understand that too.

Why do people like living in rural areas?

There are many reasons people like living in rural areas. Many of us are so used to living in a fast-paced world, and the only time we slow down is for our one vacation a year (if we are lucky). And even planning for that is stressful. But imagine being able to live somewhere where you feel relaxed the majority of the time… where it feels like time stands still some days. That’s what rural living is like.

Living in rural areas gives you time to enjoy where you are. You can’t always just get up and go shopping or to a restaurant to distract yourself. It’s an overall slower pace. In addition, you’ll likely have a bit more land which will enable you to do more things outside. You might find you enjoy gardening or finally be able to buy that horse you’ve always dreamed about.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of rural life?

Like living anywhere, there are advantages and disadvantages of rural life. Above, we discussed the 10 things to love about rural living. There is fresh air and just overall feeling more connected to nature. You will likely be able to do more because you will have some land. And you won’t have to worry about city codes about having animals such as chickens or raising goats. 

Living in a rural setting means an opportunity to live more sustainably or off the grid in ways you can’t do in the city.

There are disadvantages of rural living too. You may find yourself farther away from family. This can be difficult if you wish to care for aging parents or want to be close to your children and/or grandchildren.

If you have school-aged children, a disadvantage to living farther out means it takes longer to get to and from school. Many people may see this as an opportunity to home school. By not being on a schedule and with the opportunity to live off the land, children can learn many skills.

You may need to be more of a planner if you live farther away from stores. Some people live an hour away from a grocery store. But you can still be in a rural setting and be closer.

You may be farther from doctors, hospitals, police and fire stations. Another disadvantage is if you have well water. In some rural areas, you may not have access to high-speed internet. (This can also be considered an advantage for some people!)

In rural areas, another disadvantage is power outages. Though they may be infrequent, when they happen, they may last longer than areas with high population density. You may find in time it’s helpful to get a generator.

How do you adjust to rural living?

For some people, it takes awhile to adjust to rural living. I know when we moved away from a big city, we were surprised we could hear birds chirping at 5am outside our rural home. That took some getting used to! Yet, in the city, we were nearby public transportation and shopping, and slept through everything.

It may take some time to let your shoulders down and relax. Just taking some time to wander around your home and property, exploring and seeing what you have and the potential. You can start thinking about some things you may want to do in time. The great thing is there isn’t a timeline. You can settle in and think about some things you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time or space to do them.

You can make a list of everything and then organize it according to importance, budget, and season. This will help you adjust to rural living. You will start thinking about the possibilities instead of thinking about what you left behind. Perhaps you will learn about greenhouse plants or how to compost.

You may need to think differently about shopping and learn how to store food long term so you don’t have to go shopping frequently if you live far away from the grocery store. 

What is the difference between rural and urban life?

There are many differences between rural and urban life. For one, the population density will be much less in a rural environment. You will likely be farther away from your neighbors. You may have more land living in a rural setting versus an urban area.  In many ways, it will be quieter. You won’t have traffic from people coming and going. There won’t be public transportation nearby. 

Stores, restaurants, and entertainment will be farther away. This is the same with hospitals, schools, and places of worship. 

There may be more of a sense of community in rural areas than in urban areas. You will also usually have an opportunity to have some land, whether that’s a quarter of an acre or 10+ acres. This means you can garden, raise animals, and do other things you wouldn’t have space to do in the city. In addition, there won’t be ordinances against whatever you want to to.

Things to love about rural living

There are so many great things about living in a rural area. You will be forced to slow down. In many ways, you may be more active given you will be out on your property working on projects. There are so many possibilities for what you can do. Learn about the best rural places to live and start with a plan to do it.


Understanding Supply & Demand

Supply and demand are often cited as the reason for prices going up or down. And understanding supply and demand fluctuations can help you better interpret the dynamics of price determination.

The law of supply states that the quantity of a good supplied rises as the market price rises. In other words, businesses will want to sell more if the price is higher. The opposite is also true - businesses will look to cut back their sales if the price they get is lower. The law of demand says the quantity of a good demanded falls as the price rises. Buyers will cut back their purchases if they face a higher price and vice versa.

Supply and demand shifts matter a great deal for markets. Suppose that the production of lentils goes up because of excellent growing conditions. If all other factors remain the same, the supply increase will lead to lower prices. Prices will adjust downward to lead buyers to purchase more lentils, given the ample supply in the marketplace.

Now suppose the demand for animal proteins is stronger because of excellent summer barbeque weather. If all other factors remain the same, prices will increase as there’s no more supply in the marketplace in the short-term to accommodate this surge in demand.

While these are basic economic principles, the correlations are rarely that simple.

Local or global

You’ve no doubt seen supply and demand calculations. Production is added to the carry-in to generate a total supply number. From that, all the uses of the commodity are subtracted to generate a carryover stocks estimate. The carryover stocks from one year become the carry-in stocks for the next year.

  Commodity X (million tonnes)  
 Year 1Year 2
Carry-in 5 3
Production 15 22
Total Supply 20 25
Exports 13 18
Domestic Use 4 4
Total Use 17 22
Carryover (Stocks) 3 3
Stocks-to-Use 17.6% 13.6%

Supply and demand tables can be constructed for a commodity on a worldwide basis, a country basis or even a regional basis. On corn, for instance, a U.S. supply and demand table is often valuable because of the dominant position the U.S. has in corn production and exports.

Stocks-to-use ratio

How do we make sense of all the relevant information available about supply and demand? There’s a lot to consider. That’s where the stocks-to-use ratio comes in. It’s a powerful statistic that summarizes the balance between available supply and demand.

In the example above, carryout stocks of commodity X remained the same from one year to the next at 3 million tonnes. However, the stocks-to-use ratio decreased because total use was higher. The ratio is what’s typically used in the analysis of supply and demand. In this example, the lower ratio indicates a tighter supply relative to the projected demand, which would be positive for price projections.


One would expect the price of beef to increase if there’s less production available in the market. However, rather than paying more for beef, some consumers might buy more pork or chicken instead. Rather than looking at the supply and demand of beef in isolation, it can be instructive also to examine other competing meats to account for this substitution effect.

Canola and soybeans compete in oilseed markets. Corn and barley compete as livestock feed. Substitution, though, is rarely perfect. A livestock feeding operation might prefer barley over corn or vice versa. An oilseed crushing facility might be set up to crush soybeans and not canola. Plus, transportation costs and currency exchange figures into the equation.

Market interactions can be complex

Buyers typically complain when the price of crude oil drops, but diesel and gasoline prices don’t fall as much or at all. The same is true for nitrogen fertilizer. A price drop in natural gas used to make nitrogen fertilizer doesn’t necessarily correspond to a drop in urea or anhydrous ammonia values.

In each of these cases, manufacturing capacity matters. Even when crude oil is relatively abundant and cheap, diesel and gasoline prices can remain high if refining capacity can’t keep up with demand. The same is true for nitrogen fertilizer. Less expensive natural gas certainly cuts the cost of manufacturing fertilizer, but manufacturing might be at full capacity.

Time matters

It’s often said that the cure for a high price is high prices. High prices generate the incentive for increased production, and this extra supply will cause prices to drop. However, this usually takes time. Many countries only grow one crop per year. For beef production, it can take years to ramp up supply substantially.

Markets aren’t perfect

While not perfect, analysis of supply and demand will always be important because it captures all the relevant information about prices.

In theory, price discovery flows from supply and demand. However, for commodities with a small number of sellers, competition may be lacking. With international trade, tariff and non-tariff trade barriers can hamper how markets function. As well, real and perceived quality differences and brand loyalty can influence prices.

While not perfect, analysis of supply and demand will always be important because it captures all the relevant information about prices.

Next steps:

  • Learn more about stocks-to-use ratio
  • Watch this supply & demand video and see J.P. Gervais work through a real world example
  • Developing a commodity marketing strategy? Use the information about supply and demand in the marketplace to form your price target/expectations.

Young Farmers - Starter loan!

You’ve dreamed of a life in agriculture – and we’re here to help you achieve it. As part of the future of our industry, you need financing and services that you can count on. With FCC, you can get customized financing through the Starter Loan and Young Farmer Loan. Plus, you can attend our events for farmers under 40, and get tools and advice to help take your business plans to the next level.  We’re here for your journey – right from the start.

What does it take to be a young farmer?

In this series of videos, producers and entrepreneurs from across Canada share their thoughts about being part of the industry they love.

  • FCC Starter Loan
  • Young Farmer Loan

FCC Starter Loan

Set yourself up for success and rise to your challenge with the FCC Starter Loan. Build your credit history and gain independence with your own loan to purchase livestock, equipment or shares in a company. 


  • Designed for 18 to 25-year-olds 
  • Special rates available
  • No loan processing fees


  • Variable open rate at Prime plus 1.2%
  • Variable closed rate at Prime plus 1%
  • Special one to five year fixed rates available
  • Establish or expand your operation and build your credit history with FCC
  • AgExpert Bundle: Get AgExpert Accounting Premium and AgExpert Field Premium for the life of the loan (valued at $499/year)

Finance your future today

Call 1-888-332-3301 to learn more.

Find your local field office

Hear from other young farmers

When Jeremy leaves his city job, he depends on expert advice to learn how to start a farm of his own – and be successful. Learn more in this BDO fictional case study.

A business plan is a key tool to set you up for success. Here are 10 things to include and resources to get you started.