If you’re like most homeowners, you have a list of home improvement projects that range from small and cheap to complex and expensive. Even if skill, time and money were no issue, you’d still have to decide where to start. While prioritization is important, plans can change as conditions do. When setting your priorities, you should expect to reassess them periodically, adding new ideas as you go along. Below are some considerations to make when deciding which home maintenance chores to tackle first.
When you consider a home maintenance task, your first question is likely to be, “How much will it cost?” Price is a determining factor in many home improvement decisions. It’s helpful to have a budget in mind before work starts, and if you’re thinking in the long-term, you can group your projects into those that need doing now (and those that can wait).
Individual Project Cost
When budgeting, it’s also helpful to assign a dollar value to every project on your to-do list. Err on the side of caution, and plan for the worst case scenario. By leaving some wiggle room in the budget, the only surprises you’ll run into are good ones—like coming in under budget.
Your Availability, Interest and Skills
Before starting on a project, you should think of how much time you can devote to it, how interested you are in the work, and your level of competence. By determining what you can handle, you’ll avoid getting in over your head—which can quickly get expensive.
Leave Complex Jobs to the Pros
Just as it’s good to get your hands dirty from time to time, it’s just as good to leave certain jobs to the professionals. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC repairs all require professional licensing, because they’re all dangerous. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a particular job, call a pro. Hiring outside help can save you money and time, because they’ll do the job right the first time.
Rate Jobs According to Urgency
While it’s a bit different from making a wish list (we’ll cover that in the next section), rating projects according to importance helps to separate the important ones from those that are less essential. By grouping jobs according to need, you’ll come out knowing which should be done now—and which jobs can wait.
Leave Room for “Wants”
Some projects are vital, but the extras can sometimes make home life worth living. If adding color to the dining room or installing a new home theater system will make you happy, and make you more willing to tackle the rest of the to-do list, it may be worthwhile to make these projects a higher priority.
It’s much easier to stay enthused about home improvement when you can see the progress you’ve made, and prioritizing your jobs can make progress more apparent. By handling the important jobs while leaving time and money for some fun projects, you can get everything done without feeling as if you’re missing out.