If you’ve ever had a survey or inspection done on a home that you are buying or selling, you’ll be familiar with the feeling of mild terror every time the surveyor takes a breath. Because you want this inspection to go well, you fear that it won’t, and even if it is irrational you fear that every time there is a pause, it will be followed by “this needs a full repair or replacement, and you’re probably looking at paying thousands for that”.
The same kind of anxiety over potential bad news can prevent us from making improvements in our homes when they are needed, or even when they would just be a nice addition. It’s worth overcoming, though, because no amount of turning your head away from reality ever stopped it being reality. And while it may seem like a recipe for increased anxiety, walking around your home with a notebook and pen might just allow you to realize that while the situation isn’t as good as you’d hoped, it’s a lot better than you feared.
Inside the average home, at any given moment there could be multiple areas that could benefit from improvement. Before getting too heated about it, though, it is worth agreeing on a set of priorities based on need, want and practicality. Once you’ve got those priorities figured out, you can take on the tasks in order and give yourself the breathing space to address what needs to be addressed.
First, consider a declutter
Minimalism in a home isn’t just a way of making the space look like a modernist magazine shoot. There are definite practical advantages to having fewer things cluttering up the place, one of which is that clean sight lines give you a better chance of seeing what needs to be done throughout the home. So any renewal project should begin with a thorough and honest declutter. That means first going into any storage spaces and deciding whether the things in there need to be kept. If an item has no sentimental value, and the last time you saw it was when it survived the last declutter, it can go.
You’ll then go through the items that are currently out in the main home areas, and decide whether some of them could go into storage or even let go entirely. Once everything has been through a process of keep/store/dispose, you can then look at the house in a more honest, calmer way.
Then, look everywhere
It’s easy to fall into the trap of telling yourself that an all-around inspection isn’t necessary if all you want to do is replace a few shower curtains, paint in some rooms and maybe lay some new flooring. But if you’re going to be embarking on a home renewal, you are going to be spending money. If that is the case, you need to know whether there is somewhere more urgently in need of that kind of targeted spending. You’ll get around to the more cosmetic parts in time, but they can’t come at the expense of a roof repair or a window replacement. More important repairs like those can also become more urgent, and thus more expensive, with time, so the overall inspection is essential.
The wider look may not turn up anything that is of particular urgency or even a matter of need at all. If not, then so much the better! You can focus on the bits you really want to do, free in the knowledge that it’s not getting in the way of more important work.
Consider the benefits for house value
You may not be considering selling your home any time soon, but there is still an important reason to look at home renewals through the prism of house value. When you are making changes to your house, considering the possible impact on the house’s value is a good way of guiding whether the modification is worthwhile. Don’t misunderstand - if you really want a colorful wall hanging that will do nothing for the price, then you should feel free to make that addition. But if you are looking to put choices in order of importance, it does help to know what they do for the overall value of a place.
What this means in practice is that decisions like a loft conversion should take priority over replacing the tiles in the bathroom, and energy-efficient modifications like insulation or renewable heating should, for the moment, take precedence over adding a tennis court or something similar.
Now you need to know your budget
You may be wondering why, on a list of important considerations in a home renewal project, the budget is relegated to fourth place. It’s a good question, and the answer is fairly straightforward. Everything up to this point has been based on prioritizing important aspects of the overhaul. If you put a dollar value on the entire project ahead of time, it raises the chance of important work being deprioritized because it doesn’t fit the budget. But if work needs to be done, it needs to be done.
Perhaps more importantly, without knowing what actually needs to be done, your home renewal budget is only ever going to be a speculative number decided on a completely arbitrary basis. Your thinking on a budget should be guided by the facts.
Look at the calendar
There are good times and bad times to carry out repairs in your home. For example, you don’t really want to be fixing or replacing the boiler in mid-January if it could be done in July when it’s about forty degrees warmer. With that said, if you’re going to need to trust some of the work to contractors, you will want to make sure that you’re not going to them at the last minute - getting someone to come out for an emergency or at short notice can come with a substantial premium.
During the winter, a lot of issues in your home may make themselves known to you as colder temperatures and inclement weather take their toll on your comfort. Even if these become less of a problem as we move towards spring, keep in mind that there is a January every year - doing the work during sunnier months means that you won’t have to compete with the worst of conditions next winter.
Be honest about what’s for the house, and what’s for you
If you read enough home improvement books and blogs, it’s possible to be convinced that you don’t just want a certain modification, you actually need it. The idea is that it will “add value”, or “tie the whole project together”, or any of a number of potential excuses to do something that you always wanted to do anyway. A rain shower in the master bathroom won’t sell the house any quicker, or put any zeroes on the price if you should come to sell.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add little touches for you - after all, you may not even be planning to sell up - but you do need to bear in mind the matter of priority. You can find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on smart technology that controls the house to the nth degree, but any potential buyer won’t be swayed by a more elaborate smart setup. Ask yourself if you are investing for a higher return, or just spending on something you want. Either answer is OK, but it does matter priority-wise.
Renewing and remodeling your home is a process you’re going to go through at least a few times while you are living there - and by knowing how to balance the process, you can get to a point where you can make decisions on it without flinching.
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.