When it comes time to plan that next home improvement project, it is only natural that homeowners are thinking about themselves.

However, that might not be the best idea. Instead, these projects should be made with the buyers in mind, because a smart upgrade can fetch a lot more money during a sale - or help the property get sold quicker.

Thankfully, there are plenty of renovation ideas that can satisfy both picky residents and potential buyers. But, before and after a remodel, homeowners should contact a property inspection professional. These experts can make sure that the entire house is in good shape, and any upgrades were completed correctly.

Think simple for older houses

Not every home improvement must break the bank. In fact, it is these upgrades that can get people into trouble. Putting in thousands of dollars into one feature increases the likelihood that the homeowner won't be able to recoup that money. On the contrary, simple is better - especially when it comes to older houses.

According to Bill and Kevin Burnett, contributors to Inman News, the easiest upgrade is a coat of paint. However, there are still some steps one should take in order to do it all right. For example, the first task is covering the floors with drop cloths. Then, the walls should be washed to get rid of any dirt and grease, followed by painter's masking tape around the edges of the baseboards, door trim and window trim. If there are any holes in the walls or woodwork, now is the time to fix them. After, the painting can begin.

In addition, extra features - like the ceiling, floor or doors and windows - can be painted also. This can be done after the walls have dried, often using the same tools as before. These simple steps can drastically alter a house's look and feel, at little cost. Better yet, a fresh, neutral tone can be a big selling point for new buyers, which will help the property sell faster.

Popular improvements to consider

Most homeowners think about the inside of their houses when performing improvements. However, they should consider the entire residence, from the outside in. A home inspection could point out areas that need work, or renovation projects that need some extra attention.

According to Bankrate.com, more projects take place on the inside of the house than on the outside. This is because these parts are what homeowners see - they tend to care less about the outside. If this is the case, though, they could be missing out on some seriously smart upgrades.

"It's natural to think about having a nice bathroom that you use every day instead of how nice new siding would be," Dean Bennett, president of a Colorado-based design and construction firm, told the news source. He added that a large number of people "undertake remodeling projects with the key purpose of making their homes more livable."

Most homeowners want to change the things they see the most, like a bathroom, kitchen, floor or paint. While a home inspection professional can help clarify indoor issues, there are also plenty of things going on outside.

For instance, Business Insider explained that an exterior siding replacement can get a great return on investment. This can be relatively cost-effective based on the results, with the final project turning an old home into one that looks brand new. If foam backing is included behind the siding, additional durability and extra savings will be gained.

Overall, homeowners should think about renovations from the perspective of someone else - like a potential buyer. This can help a person make the best decisions for the money, and also create a sound, livable property.