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How to prioritize big projects at home

  • With a mind to the future, you can use current home projects to lay the groundwork for upgrades you’ll complete later on. Dreamstime



Angie’s List
Friday, July 06, 2018

Huge home remodeling projects don’t need to be taken on all at once. Whether it’s not in the budget, you’re not able to physically do it or you just can’t deal with that much upheaval at the same time, it’s often wise to spread it out. Sometimes you can split big projects up into bite-sized chunks, and sometimes single done-in-one projects can lay the groundwork for future work, also known as “phasing.”

First things first

Think about practicality above all. The first things you need to focus on will be the ones that impact your ability to use the space effectively and safely. Yard leveling may be at the top of a landscaping plan; leaky roofs need to be repaired before you move ahead with a great new slate roof.

Give consideration to work that can pay for itself over time. Some projects offer immediate return on investment; you should make those early priorities in a series of jobs. If you can only handle part of a room remodeling job, for instance, energy-efficient windows are an excellent choice to start with. Anything that reduces energy or water consumption will yield an immediate savings starting with your next bill.

After that, consider your current situation. Are you fixing up a starter home? Is your current home a bit out of date and you want to get rid of that shag carpeting? Crown molding, painting or wallpaper, appliances and fixtures all make an immediate impact on a home’s look and feel without necessarily breaking the bank.

Think ahead to the future

If you have big plans for an area, consider how what you’re working on right now will impact what’s coming up. Sometimes creating a strong foundation for future work is a literal statement. If you have big landscaping dreams, for instance, perhaps building a patio or establishing basic mulch beds this year will yield options for next year.

Think about life changes to come. If you’re starting a family, you might plan on an open-design kitchen to act as a hub for comings and goings, and install additional storage such as a mudroom for all those boots and coats in your immediate future.

Conversely, if your children are in high school, keep in mind the kind of empty-nest renovations you might start planning in a few years. You might be able to set up those hobby rooms or devote a garage to a motorcycle workspace.

Sometimes smaller, low-cost improvements can make a difference quickly. New fixtures, painting, wallpapering and minor landscape improvements don’t cost much but immediately improve your quality of life and give you something to enjoy while you work on the big picture. Plants and irrigation are great starting points for a landscaping project.

Don’t underestimate the value of expert opinion. Whether you’re planning a room addition, landscaping or a new roof, professionals in the field can provide guidance and advice. And sometimes, they can even present you options you hadn’t even thought of.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers.