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How to Prioritize Home Projects

By Jan Soults Walker

When it comes to improvements around the house, you needn't close your eyes and pick one to tackle first. Use these considerations to wisely rank your redos and other plans.

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Garrison Hullinger
You probably have more than one project in mind for updating and personalizing your home. Here's how to decide which come first.
Catalog. Think through everything you'd like to do around the house and make a list. Then use the factors below to prioritize.
Costs. Budget matters, but you shouldn't necessarily put off more expensive projects until last. Consider the value the project will add to your home; a second bathroom, for example, typically boosts resale value more than a home office. Also, give first attention to projects vital to the function of your home, such as an updated kitchen or a new roof.

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Keep in mind too that you can stretch your budget without sacrificing style. If you're using a contractor and the bids come in too high, prioritize the features within the room, keeping the ones you value highly and forgoing those that aren't as important. You can also seek out attractive substitutes for more expensive materials and features, such as using tile rather than stone floors in the master bathroom.

Practicality. When considering the order of various projects, think about what makes sense. For example, installing plumbing and electrical before drywall or painting walls before installing new flooring to protect the surface.
Urgency. Some projects simply must be done first, such as replacing or repairing a broken oven, a failed water heater, or a leaky roof.
Usefulness. Give priority to rooms and features within rooms that your household uses most often, such as the kitchen, primary bathrooms, or gathering spaces. Priority rooms can also be unique to you, such as a home office if you work at home.
Longevity. If you plan to live in your house for more than five years, you can typically spend more on personalized features. If you plan to sell in less than five years, make improvements that promise the greatest rate of return for your investment, such a kitchen, bathroom, and structural improvements (roof, windows, etc.).

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