How to Prioritize Home Projects


Home projects attract all of us, but we don’t always think through everything that is involved and prioritize what we can do ourselves, what can be contracted out, or what we can afford. Painting your house sounds like a fun project for you to do, but it may be more efficient and even cheaper taking everything into consideration to hire a home painter.

The trick is to prioritize your home projects. Read on for some tips on how to do this.

Need for Improvement

If you think you need to make an improvement to your home, you need to assess whether it is necessary to do anything, or if it would just be nice to do. You must also look at how much needs to be done. Perhaps you don’t need to redo the whole room or section, it may be sufficient to do some basic repairs or touching up.

If the area you want to improve is a wooden deck, you will need to assess to what extent you need to work on it. If the wood is rotten or at all dangerous, have it replaced. If it’s just weathered, though, then sanding and sealing will be quite a straightforward improvement you could do yourself.

You can also give the railing around the deck a fresh coat of paint and the whole space will have a brand-new feel. If the deck is uncovered, and you need a new roof, then that is a whole new ballgame, and you may need to reassess. Can you get by using large porch umbrellas, or do you need to call in a contractor and give the porch a really solid cover?

Order of Importance

There are three reasons to do home improvement:

To repair something that is broken or that poses a danger to you and your family

(For example: Repair or replace part of the room that is threatening to fall, which means calling in a residential roofing contractor.)

To make some changes that will make things more convenient in your home.

(For example: Replacing a shower curtain with a door, or contracting a bathroom renovator to redo a bathroom so that the shower is bigger and there is a double sink.)

To change something for aesthetic purposes.

(For example: Paint the lounge a different color, so that it doesn’t clash with the new furniture, or repainting the exterior of the house because you would like an update, and it should match the color of your new gate.)

All of these are important reasons to do some home improvement, but they do help you to prioritize. On one level, it is accurate to assume that prioritizing home improvements can simply be about what is more urgent being done first. ‘Urgent’ can mean repairing something that is broken, but it can also mean addressing something that is inconveniencing the family’s normal functioning and use of the house.

Sometimes the thing that needs to be done first is for reasons of practicality, as long as there is nothing in the home that poses a threat. Imagine that Granny is coming to live with you and there is no suitable room. In the den, though, there is a plug socket that doesn’t work. It would be more efficient and necessary to turn off the circuit breaker to that plug for a short time while you concentrate on renovating a room for Gran, rather than sorting out the socket and having nowhere suitable for Gran to live.

Everything is relative. It’s no use adding a custom glass shower door to your en suite bathroom when the toilet seat in the second bathroom is broken and keeps falling off.


Before you decide you need to do some home projects, it’s a good idea to declutter your home. Do you really need a custom countertop in the kitchen, or do you need to weed out what is unnecessary and simply make more space?

Is it vital that you redo the bathroom cabinet and add a cupboard under the sink, or should you move some of your cosmetics to your bedroom and use the kitchen cupboard for soaps, bath oils, and the like?

By moving the extra clutter, you will be able to assess just how important the home improvement actually is.

Contractor or DIY

There are two ways of going about doing home improvements: you can hire a contractor, or you can do it yourself. Both of these have merits and drawbacks. Both of them will also affect how you prioritize what projects need to be done when.

If you use a contractor, then it is likely the work will be done quicker than if you do it yourself. It may also cost more and not be as fun or satisfying. On the other hand, though, sometimes a project is just too big for you to do on your own and may need to be done quickly. If you are putting in a new garage and want to use metal roofing, you’ll need a roofing contractor.

Of course, the amount of involvement you can have in improvements to your home will depend on your expertise. To help prioritize projects, you should consider what you are capable of doing well. After all, you want any improvements to be solid and last for a long time. Don’t try to take on projects that would be fun to do or give you satisfaction but are just too big for you. In those cases, you will need to call in a contractor.

You may be perfectly capable of changing a washer in the leaking bathroom tap, but don’t take on replacing and replumbing the sink if you want to move it, or want it to be double. It will be more efficient to call in plumbing services for even a relatively small, but specific task like that.

Tools and Equipment

Let’s say you are a competent craftsman and can work on home improvement projects yourself. One way of prioritizing where you should start is to consider the tools or equipment that may be needed.

Don’t leap in to do an improvement if you don’t have what is necessary to do the work. Rather identify what you can do with the tools you have available and begin there.

Working with wood can require some very specific tools, which the average person isn’t likely to have in the garage. Let’s say you need some shelves for books in the den, and you want to make a completely new, freestanding bookshelf. For this level of woodwork, you may need a jigsaw or an orbital sander. At this stage, you may need to put aside the idea of the bookshelf and use the drill, screws, and screwdrivers to create some built-in shelves using brackets and planks.

Timetable the Improvements

The thing about any projects you want to do is that real life gets in the way sometimes. This is a very important consideration when you are working on prioritizing home improvements.

Let’s say you’ve had plans to create the perfect space for your baby that’s on the way, but have kept putting it off to do other work around the house. Then it’s two weeks before the due date, and you still have time to do the painting before the birth.

The baby has other ideas, though, and comes early. So, now you have a baby and no completed nursery. What do you do? The answer is: plan better in the beginning. Prioritize painting the nursery over sanding and sealing the floors in the passage. That can be done at any time, but babies don’t wait for you.

What you should also do is to look at your family’s activities for the next month, or even longer. You should find times when things are a bit quieter. Perhaps the kids are away on summer camp, and you can get stuck in. Or, the summer vacation is just the time for the whole family to get involved in creating the perfect play space in the house.

You also need to consider how big the project is and if it can be done in spurts on the weekend. If it is a bigger improvement, you may need to take leave. Look at your life events. Don’t call in bathroom renovators to schedule redoing the bathroom soon before your gran is coming to visit. Don’t decide to paint the nursery a few weeks before the baby is due.

Consider the Season and Weather

Your lifestyle, priorities, and availability can affect the way you go about identifying and prioritizing home improvements, but those are factors you can control. Don’t forget the weather though.

You may have contracted the best roofing and siding service, but even they cannot work if it’s raining. Unless they are urgent, it may be best to put off changes to the roof and sidings until the end of the rainy season.

Then, again, that may mean winter, which will also mean an open roof will be freezing.

Living With It

Even if they are small, any home improvement will affect you and your lifestyle, sometimes only temporarily, but also sometimes for a long time. An important consideration when working on how to prioritize home projects is to think about how long the project will take. Can you live through the change? Will you have to take some more time off?

If you know you won’t be able to cope with what a project entails, then perhaps it doesn’t need t to be done right now. Or even at all. It may be better if it’s put off for a month when you will be away, or no longer working from home and are able to get away from the dust and noise.

If you know you can live with the fallout, then the project must be worth doing.

Added Value

Don’t embark on improvements that will overcapitalize on your property. Rather make sure that what you do to the house does increase its retail value. An outdoor swimming pool may seem attractive to potential buyers, but only in an area where the temperatures are high, and there is a demand for cooling off. If you live in an area where the temperatures don’t reach above 70 °F (21 °C), don’t think of putting it in a pool. It may detract from your home, rather than add to its attractiveness.

The Master Plan

The very best way to prioritize home improvements is to have a master plan. Look carefully at your home and what should or could be done. Any immediate repairs will take preference, but those that you want to do also need a place.

Work backward on the plan: decide what you want the house to look like in one year’s time, or two, or even five. Then work from there, deciding what projects should be done when. It may be logical to begin with smaller aspects. What if one of these is changing the fittings in the kitchen, and you also want to put in new cabinets at some stage.

Rather than doing the taps this month, then finding that you have to take them out again in a year’s time, because now the whole kitchen is being redone, plot the vision for the whole kitchen on your master plan. Consult a kitchen cabinet designer and consider what fittings to use before embarking on any aspect of the improvements.

It’s All About the Money

I have left the question of the money to last, not because it is the least important, but rather because it is the thought I want to leave you with. If you cannot afford a home project, then don’t do it. Unless it is an emergency repair.

Look at your available resources and budget for your projects, or no plans and no prioritizing of home improvements will be worth anything.

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