When you consider the fact that almost 85% of homes in the U.S. were built before 1980, it makes sense that you might be considering doing some home improvement projects. But before you get started, what is the best way to get started? If you’re struggling to choose which project to put at the top of your home improvement priority list, here are a few tips that might help you out.

Address Function First

When you’re not sure where to begin, a quick walkthrough of your home can help you identify areas where function is the main issue. Why function first? Because when you hone in on areas of your home that aren’t functional, you can usually make some pretty simple fixes to make your life easier. For example, consider small things like your keys. Do you constantly lose them? Do you hate seeing them laying around on the counter? Maybe you just need a place to hang them up. And there you have it! Your first home improvement project has manifested and it’s not even that big of a fix. If you notice a bigger functionality issue, like the lack of a coat closet in your front hall, that’s going to be a bigger project. But if you have a stunning lack of storage space in your home, investing in that project now could give you the opportunity to live a more organized life in the long run. When you consider function first, you’re putting your needs above your wants, which you’ll thank yourself for later. And after this, your “want” project will feel like a treat!

Think About First Impressions

When you roll up the street and see your house, what do you feel? Are you ashamed? Embarrassed? If you have negative feelings when you look at your house every day, odds are you don’t feel like you’re making a good impression on anyone else, either. So a new roof might have a 62% ROI, but it goes beyond that. When your home looks good and you feel good about it, you’re more likely to stay there and enjoy yourself. And if it does come time to sell the home you’re currently living in, making a great first impression is key to attaining a quick sale and a higher asking price. But you don’t have to overhaul your entire roof every time you want to spruce up the way your home looks. Simple projects like painting your entryway walls or adding accents to your empty walls can go a long way for just a little bit of money. Focusing your energy on projects that make you and your guests feel at home and happy in your space could even be a welcome opportunity if your home needs some sprucing up.

Eliminate Energy Waste

Energy waste is one of the biggest issues to correct in older homes. Poorly insulated attics, old windows, and gaps under doors are some of the biggest culprits of energy waste in your home. Fortunately, it’s definitely in your best interest to eliminate these issues. In fact, energy-efficient doors and windows that meet U.S. EPA and DOE standards can save you anywhere from 7% to 15% on your energy bills. And if the savings weren’t enough to convince you to recognize the importance of saving energy, your freezing cold home might. If you live somewhere that sees all four seasons, you know that older windows just don’t get the job done. Whether you like it or not, a drafty house is costing you money and those windows probably need to go.

Remember: Low Cost, High Impact

When you’re making updates to your home, it’s important to think about cost versus impact. If you’re planning a high-cost project that will have little impact on your home’s overall value, it’s probably not worth pursuing. Instead, consider projects that will come at a low cost and have a high impact. For example, refinishing your kitchen cabinets might be a low-cost project because it only takes one can of paint and a few new pieces of hardware. But the impacts of sprucing up that small area of your home can be astronomical. And if you decide to sell, a set of refinished kitchen cabinets can go a long way in increasing value.

Figuring out how to prioritize your home improvement projects in a way that positively impacts your life and your finances takes a little bit of time. But with these tips, you’ll be on your way to a high ROI and a spruced-up home sooner than you might think.

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