Being a homeowner is expensive. Whether you recently bought your first home or have several years of homeownership under your belt, it is often difficult to determine what projects and renovations to complete first. With limited funds and only so many hours in the day, it is natural to feel overwhelmed when you know that there are a lot of things that need doing. And when you are overwhelmed, it’s easy to push everything aside and not tackle anything since you don’t know how to do everything at once.
There are, however, certain tasks that you should avoid putting on the back burner. From projects like installing affordable blinds to ensure your family’s privacy and maximize energy efficiency to repairing damage to your room, some home renovations just cannot wait. Let’s take a closer look at how to determine which home renovations should be at the top of your to-do list and which ones can wait.
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Consider Your Budget
Before you dive into any home improvement projects, take a good look at your budget. This step is especially important if you recently drained your savings account to buy a home. Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend, and consider how you will come up with the money to replace what you spend. Leave some wiggle room in your budget for unexpected problems, too. When renovating a home, it’s not uncommon to run into costly issues that you must address immediately.
Make a List
Go through your home, and make a list of renovations you would like to make. From major projects like replacing your doors and windows to minor projects like repainting the living room or changing out your kitchen blinds to ones that better suit your style, make note of everything. Having everything in front of you in writing gives you a clearer picture of everything that needs to be done and will help you as you start prioritizing.
Take a close look at your list and your budget. Right off the top, move projects that are costly and non-essential to the bottom of your list. For example, installing an outdoor kitchen is not a high priority when you have a leaky roof. And you probably should not worry about repainting every room in your home if there are problems with your plumbing system. When time and money are limited, be smart about which projects you decide to tackle first.
There are a few home renovations that should always take precedence over other projects.
Your home’s roof is its first line of defense against the elements. If you have spotted damaged shingles, a leak inside your home during rainstorms or any other type of roof problem, addressing this issue should be your top priority. Roof repair is not cheap, but the cost is minimal compared to the expenses you will likely face if you don’t address the problem right away.
Never ignore electrical problems — even seemingly insignificant ones. They could pose serious safety risks, so it’s always best to bring in a licensed electrician to make repairs as soon as possible. Since electrical issues can cause injuries or fires, they are not a task that you should ever put on the back burner.
Like electrical problems, plumbing issues require your prompt attention. Leaks waste more water than many people realize, and they can cause significant water damage. Plumbing woes can also lead to mold and mildew and attract insects. Plumbing repairs are not fun, so you should always make hiring a water restoration company a top priority.
HVAC Repair, Replacement, or Upgrades
Issues involving your HVAC system also cannot wait. Contact a licensed HVAC contractor at the first sign of trouble to avoid further problems and keep costs manageable. If your old system seems to be running fine, but you are tired of high energy bills, replacing it with a newer, more efficient model is a project you should tackle as quickly as possible.
Replacing an HVAC system comes at a considerable expense, but doing so could lower your monthly gas or electric bill. And you can put the money you save toward other renovations. Plus, replacing an old, outdated system means you will be less likely to wake up in a freezing cold house in the dead of winter because your furnace went out. When it comes to your home’s heating and cooling system, it is better to be proactive than reactive.
In recent years, bathrooms have overtaken kitchens at the most popular renovation projects. If your bathroom is in desperate need of some TLC, it’s a great project to put at the top of your to-do list. If the existing plumbing is functional and in good condition, you may be able to get away with just doing a cosmetic upgrade. In many cases, though, plumbing and electrical issues need to be addressed.
When renovating a bathroom, plan to spend at least $10,000 to get the job done right. If you are not familiar with plumbing and electrical systems, hiring professionals is well worth the investment. In doing so, you’ll be ensuring that your bathroom will remain safe and functional for years to come.
Renovating your home is a huge undertaking that comes at a massive cost. Determining where to start isn’t always easy, but it’s an essential step in ensuring that everything gets done in a timely manner. When time and money are limited, the best rule of thumb is always to prioritize projects involving your home’s structure and major systems. From there, invest in projects that will improve the function of your home. While they may make you happy, renovations that are merely cosmetic should usually take the lowest priority.