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A Holmes Guide To Prioritizing Home Renovations

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Home Renovation

Monday, January 4th, 2021 @ 10:19am
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It’s easy to let all those maintenance and repair jobs build-up around the house.  The tricky part in making a priority list is knowing what needs immediate attention, what can wait a while, and also–how long it can wait.  

Most homeowners are in the same situation—you fix one thing and three other new repair projects magically appear. Or, how about this situation: you get halfway through a repair when another area of the house requires immediate attention and you have to abandon the first job. 

Before you know it, you are surrounded by a patchwork of half completed fixes.

If this sounds like you and you don’t know where to start, you should take a second to step back and make a priority list.  

I don’t think you need to have more than a limited knowledge and experience of construction to do this—just some common sense. That will help you make a master plan that will tell you the order in which the repairs should be tackled. 

Here’s a guide to prioritizing home renos. First, make two basic lists: “Need To Do” and “Want To Do”

Your “Need To Do” List


For the “Need” column, just walk around your home inside and out and take note of any irregularities. Note I’m not saying ‘problems’. Just what doesn’t look right.

You don’t need to try and get technical, or list the probable underlying cause of the problem–just list what doesn’t look right to you.  

For example, you might see that the paint is bubbling in a bedroom.  Just write, “Paint Bubble on wall in (master bedroom).”

Your “Want To Do” List


As for the “Want” column, that’s completely up to you. But in my opinion, the list needs to be realistic, based on budget and time. 

Instead of writing something like “Total Kitchen Make-over”, try to break it down to items you would want worked on specifically.  

One item on your list might be, “Replace old countertops with new laminate countertop”. These specific points will help you talk to the contractor you bring in to do the job. 

Gorgeous kitchen from BRIKS Design Build Group

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Which List Is Longer?


When you compare the two columns I’ll bet you’ll find that the “Need’ column is far longer than you expected.  Getting to anything listed in the “Want” column might look pretty unlikely.  

You need to remember that your home is all interconnected and in the process of repairing an item on the “Need To Do” list, it might affect an item in your “Want to do” list, and you get to knock off an item on each list with just one repair project. 

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Focus On Structural Repairs


The tricky part in making a priority list is knowing what needs immediate attention, what can wait a while, and also–how long it can wait.  This is where you will benefit from a qualified home inspection.  

A home inspector will take a close look at the major systems of your home and identify problem areas. If there are structural issues or problems with major systems in your house, tackle those first.

You can also seek the advice of a general contractor.

Check out the list of builders on our Holmes Approved Homes program. Photo from Omega Homes a Holmes Approved Homes builder

Fix Water Intrusion Issues First


Public enemy number one is always water penetration.  If you have a leaky roof, or water penetration in your basement, address those issues first before starting your home remodeling project.

A small leak in your roof can cause big trouble to the rest of the house. Everything below that roofline is in danger of being damaged–trusses, insulation, drywall, joists, trim, hardwood flooring, paint (like that paint bubble on the bedroom wall) and on and on, multiplied down through each level in the house, until the water eventually reaches the basement.  

Renovating To Sell?


It’s not a bad idea to plan some home improvement jobs if you are looking to sell your house. Focus on renovations that will increase the resale value of your home.

Bathroom renovations, kitchen upgrades and improving your curb appeal will all contribute to increasing the value of your property.

Check out my list of 11 EASY renovations that can increase the value of your home.

Make It Right®