Below are fraternity house improvement ideas given to me by subscribers to my newsletter (learn more about my newsletter here).
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41 Fraternity House Improvement Ideas
1. Re-Paint walls to clean and/or update the house
2. Clear landscaping to remove old brush or add new
3. Cleaning marathon, with a set amount of hours where every surface, floor, piece of furniture, etc gets cleaned
4. House Projects are often not about cleaning or updating the house. They are about building relationships and strengthening the bond between brothers.
5. Make sure it has deep significance. This means it has to be more than improving the physical structure. Another chapter at my alma mater updated their front walkway and patio area with memorial bricks and did an excellent job of building a sentimental feature of their house in remembrance of a lost brother. I’m not saying go out there and copy the idea, but make sure it’s a project that has actual meaning. This improves buy in and helps to get other generations of brothers involved
6. Include new members in every step. They may be incredibly handy or just another set of hands. Either way, just like making sure your project has significance, including new members in a collaborative environment is a great way to create those lifelong connections we value in the fraternity world
7. Show off what you did. Use social media, your campus newspaper, or any other positive PR outlet to put on display what you accomplished. By putting the fruits of your labor out there, you can demonstrate to the campus community that their perceptions of fraternity men are inaccurate.
8. Involve alumni as often as you can. Creating connections across generations is always a good thing. As someone who has graduated already, I would appreciate being included in House Projects to be able to assist younger brothers and make connections with them. You never know what alumni may help get you an interview, write a recommendation, etc. Valuing your history and the people who made it only helps your cause
9. We have done numerous things such as painting, buying a Ping pong table, or surround sound system.
10. Building beer pong table with beer caps speling letters on top covered with poly eurothane
11. Removing old carpeting. Decorating with paddles. I suggest a trading spaces event with a local sorority.
12. I’m a strong believer in the undergraduate members maintaining and upgrading the fraternity house. One of the best projects we did way back when I was an undergrad was to expand a rather small screened porch into a large open deck. A group of us handled the entire project during a summer.
13. As you know fraternity housing stock across the country is aging and there are a plethora of things that need to be done. The catch is having the skills to perform them. I was house manager my junior year and performed the tasks in which I had expertise. I repaired the decks of the balconies outside of our front French doors. I cleaned the marble steps with an acid mixture. I was and still am a good painter so I organized painting projects throughout the house. One of the best projects is to organize a joint alumni/undergrad workday the weekend before school starts. This promotes unity and brings in alumni talent to take care of some of the tasks that the undergraduates can’t do. The important message here is for the undergrads to understand that they are not just tenants. Knowing that being a brother is synonymous with being a steward of the property is the purpose here. If they have some skin in the game, they most likely will respect and take care of the house better.
14. Instead of just repainting walls, making a mural or painting a cool, clean design incorporating your letters, crest, motto, etc.
15. Include brothers in the demolition of old, stained, gross, never should be used again, falling apart furniture (think chainsaws and giant dumpsters) but only if they assist in clean up projects as well.
16. Build your own shelving, lockers, cubbies, etc.
17. Continually clean/polish old trophies, plaques, composites, etc.
18. Make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless before inviting women over
19. By far, our greatest house improvement has been to the exterior of our chapter’s property. We held a landscaping project where we lined our flower beds with mulch, brick, and a few trees. The new exterior not only promotes PR for a fraternity house that is respected by its members, but also serves as a great recruitment tool by being visible to students passing the house on the day brothers are working outside.
20. Paint the front door – you won’t believe how much of a difference that will make in a house.
21. Security camera system common area and exterior
22. Update furniture
23. Repaint regularly
24. Lament flooring w area rugs
25. Key fob door access
26. More direct lighting w motion sensors
27. User sensor plumbing
28. Contract cleaning.
29. Service Ice machine
30. Window covering for energy savings
31. Your national HQ may have funds that you can request as a grant for house improvement projects. Ask your leadership consultant or someone on your HQ staff if anything like this exists in your fraternity.
32. One of the improvements we made with the chapter house was a project to make the chapter house more “fraternity” in appearance. What we did (alumni chapter) was have built some dining room tables along with benches to sit on and the middle of the tables had the SIgma Chi Greek letters set in under plexiglass plus the benches also in the middle had the Sigma Chi Greek Letter in metal gold letters thus having the impact of seeing the fraternity’s Greek letters stand out as you entered this one room. We also had a metal sculpture of our White Cross symbol in 3-dimensional painted like our White Cross symbol and placed in the wall of the living room with a light shining on it from the back. Both of these projects enhanced the spirit of our fraternity and also made proud the alumni when they walk in and get the feeling of being in a fraternity house.
33. Another chapter has the Norman shield carved on the back of it’s chairs in the dining room also giving the dining room a very positive impression of the fraternity. It is also a Sigma Chi chapter. Hope these give you a couple of ideas for your articles.
34. Build a bar for the chapter room. You can find instructions with a quick google search and it adds a lot of personality to the chapter room.
35. Install energy efficient lighting in the house. This can have a dramatic impact on your utility bills.
36. Have a fundraiser to raise money to have a contractor do some real work on the house. This can include renovating a bathroom or kitchen.
37. Parking is tough on my campus. We were able to clear out a portion of our back yard to create more parking. We sold the spots to brothers and were able to make use of previously unused space.
38. Have a fraternity house project to secure items in the house. We had a couple composites stolen and they have never been recovered. As a result, we spent a day and secured all composites and plaques to the wall to ensure they aren’t as easily stolen.
39. Every couple of years you need to get rid of old nasty couches. Our chapter would inherit couches from graduating brothers every year. Before long, we had a bunch of nasty couches that needed to be removed. Removing the worst of them got rid of some of the clutter in the house and led to a better chapter atmosphere.
40. Upgrade the WIFI connection at the house.
41. While I did live in a Fraternity House during my undergraduate experience, it was a house that was owned by the University and therefore renovation projects were not an option for us. As a current Residence Life Staff Person who oversees Campus Houses and a former House Resident myself, I do have the following bit of advice:
One of the best ways to improve the general feel of your Fraternity House is to simply be mindful of the decor and keep it clean. Decorate your house with pride. A Fraternity House that is filled with Fraternity items on the walls is impressive but only when those things look nice. Stray away from hanging posters of half-naked women and torn beer boxes on your walls. It looks trashy and makes you look like a bunch of fools. Old Fraternity Items are really cool and should always be displayed with pride, but try and make sure that you are making new things that can hang in common areas so that it is clear that you make an effort to make your house look nice and more importantly that you are active in making new things.
If you are going to host events and parties at your house, be sure that you give the house a good cleaning afterwards. Be mindful of the mess that is being created during the event. Put some rules in place that will help make this process easier. If a trash can is overflowing, take the time to empty it. Don’t leave empties all over the house, find a trash can. Leave the beer inside the house and not on the lawn. Simple things like this will keep your house clean and make the cleaning process easier on you.
Use the process of cleaning the house as an opportunity to build some brotherhood. My fraternity had two brothers who had a Sunday afternoon radio show on campus and we would take that time to listen to their show (and occasionally call in and request songs) and clean our house at the same time. After about 2 hours our house was very clean, we had just spent two hours together having a great time and we were able to support our brothers all at the same time.
Your Fraternity House is an extension and reflection of the entire Fraternity. If your House is dirty and neglected then those outside (and even inside) the Fraternity will think exactly that about the Fraternity as a whole. Take pride in the place that you live and people will notice.