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Deciding which home projects to tackle first

When it comes to home improvement, you want it all. You’ve pinned a zillion ideas on Pinterest and you’re ready to get moving. So how do you prioritize your wish list and make the most of your time and money? Check out our prioritization tips, pick a project and get going!

couple doing home improvements


Before you even think about prioritizing your home improvement projects, first clean out the clutter. What does decluttering have to do with home improvement? Selling, donating or tossing the unnecessary “stuff” will improve the feel of your home, give you a clear outlook and help you take a good look at your home to evaluate what improvements are really needed. Plus, you can use any extra money from selling unused items to put toward your DIY projects!

Make a list

You’re decluttered and ready to prioritize. Good. Now make a list of all possible home projects. Don’t hold back. This is your first step — your brainstorm session. Go ahead and include everything, from fixing leaky faucets to that major bathroom remodel you’ve been dreaming about for years. Use a system that works for you. Spreadsheets, hand-written lists or individual project note cards are all good options.

Safety first

Okay, so maybe moving safety-related projects to the top of your list is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Before you take on the improvements you want to do, first complete the projects you must complete, for the safety of yourself and your family. Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working and supplied with fresh batteries. Clean out the lint from your dryer exhaust duct to prevent a fire. Fix all locks, door knobs and windows to make sure they close and lock securely. Once safety projects are checked off your list, you can move on to the fun stuff.


The reality is, budget is usually the factor that dictates which projects are tackled first. Keep a list of DIY projects along with the required supplies in your phone or purse so that you can take advantage of any deep discounts or special offers you come across. Go for projects where you get the biggest bang for the buck. Painting, new hardware and lighting updates can make a dramatic impact without having to take on a prohibitively expensive remodel. Look to TV shows, websites and magazines for ideas on how to get the look you want for less.

Consider Seasonality

Think about where you’ll be spending your time in the upcoming months. If the trees are bare and the temperatures are plummeting, you may want to put off your outdoor pergola project until you’ll really be able to use it. Focus on the functional and design updates that will be most used and most appreciated in the current and upcoming seasons.

Quick Tip

If you’re planning to sell your home, talk to your realtor about projects that will give you the best return on investment.

More DIY tips and advice

DIY vs. hired help: Choosing the right path
Renovation tools: When to rent and when to buy
Easy home updates that improve energy efficiency

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