There’s something in the air come New Year’s Day that causes a strong urge to renovate our spaces. Something about a fresh start to a new year—and this time around a new decade— invokes a desire to improve our habitats. But before you start calling up contractors to make your most elaborate Pinterest boards come to life, you may want to prioritize those projects in a smart way. Homeowners need to be smart about which renovations will be an investment in their property, and military homeowners need to be particularly cognizant of these projects. Here are four tips to help you assess what areas of your home could stand some sprucing and will produce a return on your investment (or at least not be frivolous).
Get a jump on your spring-cleaning the first of the year so you can clearly see what you’re working with. Notice that you’re running out of space in your kitchen and thinking it may be time for new cabinets? Pulling all your pantry items, appliances, and pots and pans out and purging where needed can free up space and help you realize that you don’t actually need more cabinet space after all. This process goes for pretty much the whole house, but start with your storage spaces.
Once you have a nice, clean picture of what’s in your home, you can then start to evaluate which areas of focus are in the most critical need. Are you trying to decide between a kitchen update that’s nice to have or a water heater and HVAC that are on their last legs? Be smart about prioritizing and evaluating the status of the systems in your home. No, a new roof isn’t as sexy as a walk-in glass-walled shower, but you need to triage your projects objectively and plan accordingly.
Now that you have an idea of which projects you’d like to pursue and how critical each one is, go ahead and start getting quotes from contractors. Be sure to ask them to itemize each project so you can have a range of options. Compare this with your predetermined budget (this is very important) and see what you can reasonably afford to tackle at present.
Some projects can easily be phased, and some cannot. For example, you can feasibly buy one kitchen appliance at a time to update the whole space eventually, but a full bathroom remodel usually needs to be done at one time. Seeing your projects laid out in phases can help you plan strategically for what can be done now, what you need professional help with, what you can DIY, and what projects can come later to enhance the initial renovation.
Home renovations are a big part in owning pretty much anything other than a custom new build. If you haven’t undertaken any renovations yet, you certainly will at some point in your homeownership lifespan. Military homeowners need to be keenly aware of their long-term plans for the home. If you will be PCSing away and renting the home, don’t put in high-maintenance materials for tenants. Even the best of renters will never treat your home like you will! If you’re planning on selling before a move, consult your real estate agent on what the best upgrades for your home and your market would be. They know what buyers are asking for—listen!