Q: After spending the past few weeks at home, I’ve been thinking about my house in new ways and I’m ready to change things up. How do I decide what home projects to do, and how should I prioritize them?
A: As we follow the stay-at-home order, we’re getting much more intimate with our homes. Spending an extended period of time there can be an opportunity to see it in a new light.
Sometimes it means falling in love with a space all over again. But sometimes it means finding shortcomings in your home that are ripe for change. Things that have always bugged you stand out even more, and spaces that seemed functional enough no longer work. If you’ve been noticing things you don’t like about your home, it’s time to make a list of priorities. Depending on the scope of the project, it may be time to call in a professional.
There are three main types of home projects: fixing what’s broken, making aesthetic changes to what you don’t like, and completely reworking the space.
Fixing what’s broken
Having a home in working condition should always be the top priority — especially now that you’re spending most of your time there. When something is broken, you’ll need to determine if you can fix it or if you’ll need a professional. If you need to add more caulking in the shower, you can likely do that yourself. If an appliance is malfunctioning, it’s probably time to call in a handyman or specialist.
Making aesthetic changes
Having a home that looks and feels good is the second priority. For these projects, you’ll likely be able to find a DIY solution. Projects of this scale may include hanging shelves, painting or swapping out decor. There are plenty of online resources, such as Houzz or Pinterest, that you can use for inspiration and guidance. You’ll find DIY bloggers with lengthy tutorials to help you through the parts of the project you’re unfamiliar with.
If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, find a local service provider to give you a quote. Even if they’re unable to come out, you’ll establish a contact and get the lay of the land for when things return to normal.
Remodeling your space
Sometimes a quick fix just won’t cut it. After a lengthy stay at home, you may find yourself aching for an open-concept kitchen instead of the two separate spaces you have now. You may realize your family has grown and you really need an additional bedroom. Or you may finally be ready for the master bath of your dreams. Pay attention to any aspect of your home that requires urgent attention or simply does not bring you joy. Write it all down!
If you have multiple remodeling projects in mind, it may not be immediately apparent what your priorities should be, and that’s OK! People often spread out remodeling work over multiple phases for timing, financial or personal reasons. You can do a kitchen remodel now and save up for the basement remodel in a few years.
That said, the best way to prioritize the order of projects is to determine which projects are necessities and which are luxuries. If you need an extra bathroom, that’s your priority. If you want a brand-new kitchen but the one you have will do for now, it can wait. A qualified remodeling contractor can help you determine what makes the most sense.
While you’re spending more time at home, write down anything you notice. For example, a kitchen-remodel wish list may include a more-efficient layout, soft-close cabinets, upgraded appliances or a white farmhouse sink. No detail is too small, after all, and you have plenty of time to pay attention.
Once you have a list, get in contact with your preferred design-build contractor or architect. With the list in hand, you’ll start off on the right foot and they’ll have something to base their recommendations on. Even if you’re not able to have a meeting in your home, you can still begin the conversation. It’s never too early to start gathering information for when things settle down.
Emma Zimmerman is a marketing specialist at Model Remodel, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,700 members, write to email@example.com.