Not sure what to do next around the house?

Updating a light fixture in your kitchen can make a big difference. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Updating a light fixture in your kitchen can make a big difference. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Adding a new color is a cost effective way to enhance a room in your house – then you can buy new curtains and blinds for a fresh new look. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Adding a new color is a cost effective way to enhance a room in your house – then you can buy new curtains and blinds for a fresh new look. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
If those interior doors look tired, either paint them or peck away at replacing a few at a time. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
If those interior doors look tired, either paint them or peck away at replacing a few at a time. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

At this time of year, people can’t wait to get going on that long list of spring projects that has been growing since last fall.

As homeowners, the need for home improvements is never done and always evolving. But how do you decide what to do first and come up with a priority pecking order?

Because whether you plan on selling your house in a year, five years down the road or it’s your dream home and you’re never selling, there is always something that can – or should be – done. Some will help increase the value of your home, while others are more of a necessity.

So we checked in with Susan Roemer, a realtor at the Masiello Group/Better Homes and Gardens, who knows a thing or two about home improvements and where to get the most bang for your buck – and what others might be looking for if you try to sell.

What we quickly learned is that kitchens and bathrooms are what people are drawn to. But they are also the some of the biggest renovation projects you can go through.

“They’re the most expensive and most used rooms in the house,” Roemer said. “And there’s this emotional draw to bathrooms and kitchens.”

So it’s important to consider the cost, disruption and benefit from the project. While you may want to do a complete overhaul, it might not be necessary.

“If you’re talking about something that’s 15 to 20 years old, that’s pretty tired,” Roemer said.

But could you get away with replacing the toilet and fixtures in your bathroom? What about doing a new floor or swapping out the vanity?

In the kitchen, you could opt to just replace the countertops and sink. And maybe add in a new appliances and some light fixtures. What about changing up the hardware on your cabinets?

It’s all about deciding what is best for you – and your budget – at that moment in time.

One thing that makes a huge difference is a fresh paint job.

“Colors change like fashion,” Roemer said. “So update a color if you can because paint is a very cost effective change.”

While new kitchens and bathrooms are nice, there’s also those things that aren’t as flashy, but are more vital to your house being livable.

Because your old countertop is likely still fine for piling dishes on, but if your roof is leaking, you should probably address that ASAP.

A roof is something Roemer mentioned as one of the working components of your home – like the furnace, windows, water heaters. They all just happen to be big ticket items that you’re not going to try and show off at the next dinner party.

Plan on selling? Take a look around see it from a potential buyer’s perspective.

“I ask them if they were going to stay, what would you change,” Roemer said. “I would do a walk through and look at the floors, the paint colors, the fixtures.”

Replacing carpeting is relatively inexpensive and can do wonders for what the feel and look of a room.

“Someone doesn’t want to come in and look at your floor and say ‘I’m going to need to change that,” Roemer said.

And if you just bought a house or plan on doing so, try not to get caught up with what you see on all those TV shows that make you feel like you should get everything you want on your wish list. Because if that was the case, you might want to increase your budget.

So there’s no doubt you’ll quickly have a list of updates you want to do immediately, but Roemer would offer some counter advice to that way of thinking.

“I would say get in there and live in it first,” she said. “See what works and what you want to change.”

And don’t forget about the curb appeal. It makes a big difference when the outside looks as good as the inside – and your neighbors will appreciate it, too.

So start your spring season with making a list of all your wants and needs when it comes to home improvement and start prioritizing.

Soon that list will start dwindling, and if you decide to go with some of the more cost effective ways, your bank account won’t be.

Author: Tim Goodwin

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