Your house’s condition can be in one of many states of disrepair. It might be dilapidated and falling apart, or it might be brand new and sparkling. Most people’s houses are somewhere in the middle, livable but with some needed love and attention. Often times a house’s problems are in the eyes of its inhabitants, such as an annoying bathroom layout or a kitchen counter with an unappealing color. Regardless of what needs to be fixed in or on your house, you can easily feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to prioritize repairs and renovations for it. Well, hopefully these pointers will help out.
Obviously, the safety of your family is going to take priority over everything else on your list of things to fix. If you have wires dangling out of your walls or a ceiling fan that is hanging by a thread, you would probably be wise to address these issues before you throw a new coat of paint onto your garage. When making a list of things to fix, you should always put a star next to the items that could harm your family, or damage yours or your neighbor’s property (such as a dangling tree limb). Leaky pipes are another problem that should take priority over more luxurious renovations, as they can lead to a slew of other problems, such as mold and water damage. If you have a broken window, you should probably put that near the top of your list as they leak energy and could compromise the security of your house.
Now that we have the more obvious urgent renovations out of the way, let’s look at some of the more difficult decisions that you need to make when figuring out what to work on first. Taking the next step in prioritizing your renovations requires you to know whether or not you plan on staying in your house for the long term, or if you’re going to sell it in the near future (five years, or less). If you are planning on selling your house in the near-future, you want to make renovations that will make it more appealing to the current housing market. I always recommend finding a realtor you trust (perhaps the one that sold you the house) to discuss what the current housing trends are. Perhaps everyone is looking for kitchens with a particular type of countertop or a certain color of exterior paint is more disirable than others; regardless of what the trends are, you need to know about them before you start making renovations. Another great way to figure out which renovations you should make when preparing to sell your house is looking up what the estimated return on investment is for each type of project. Also, remember that curb appeal has a great impact on your house’s market value, so plan on doing some painting and landscaping.
If you are planning on staying in your house for the long-haul, deciding which remodels to give priority to can be a little more difficult. Once you have the safety/practical renovations out of the way, really think about which aspects of your house you feel would have the greatest positive impact on your life by improving. Given that this is not always obvious, there are a number of things you can consider when deciding which renovations to take on first. Are there any rooms of your house that cause you discomfort? Do your closet doors drive you bonkers every time you are getting ready for work? Is the back burner on your stove broken, and does it throw you off every time you try to make dinner? It is the daily annoyances like these that you should concentrate on fixing first, as your life will immediately start improving when they are fixed. Improving your life is the entire point of renovating a house you plan on inhabiting for the long term, so focus on what will actually improve your life!
Once you’ve taken care of the minor (or major) annoyances in your house, figure out the grand scheme of what you want your house to be like when all of your renovations are finished. Really sit down and think about it. Write down your ideas and go over them with your partner; renovation is expensive, especially if you don’t know what you want when you go into it. It’s also important to develop a phasing plan when prioritizing your renovations, as you don’t want every room of your house torn up at the same time. For example, if you tear up both of your bathrooms at the same time, you might have to resort to the use of a bucket or a neighbor’s bathroom, and that, my friend, is no way to live. Another way to prioritize your renovations is by looking at the budget for each project. Many people knock out all of their smaller renovation projects first, before deciding whether or not they can afford to take on a major one. For example, you probably want to fix up the existing rooms in your home before you start adding on an expensive expansion. Speaking of budget, I always recommend allocating an extra 15-20% above what you are quoted for your renovations to pay for any unforeseen surprises that might arise during the renovation, such as an unknown termite colony living inside the walls or bad wiring.
Once you have prioritized your renovations, prepare for life while they are happening. Go into the renovation process understanding that your life will feel messy or cluttered while the renovations are taking place, as parts of your house may be torn up and unusable. If you go into the process knowing that your life might be a little bit more uncomfortable than it usually is, you will be less stressed out while it is happening. Also, just keep in mind how much better your life will be once the renovations are completed!
Posted on May 10, 2015.