Top Home Improvement Projects to Make Before Summer
Here are our choices for the best renovation projects to complete during spring.
1. Apply Fresh Paint
Paint doesn’t last forever, no matter how expertly applied. Paint typically lasts between three and 10 years depending on the surface it’s applied to, its type and quality, and the environmental stress it must withstand. Usually, this means a new paint job every four to six years, and spring is the perfect time for this. Here are some signs that it may be time to repaint.
- Cracking, peeling, or bubbling paint
- Cracked or missing caulk
- Faded colors
- Grease or water stains
- Mold or water damage
- Scuff marks
You may also just feel like making a change, and a new coat or color of paint is an excellent and relatively easy way to refresh your home’s appearance. A 2022 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) calculated a score out of 10 for various home improvement projects based on how happy homeowners were with the result. Painting the interior of a home, or even just a single room, got a perfect score of 10. Painting exterior siding was close behind with a 9.8.
Painting—particularly interior painting—can also be a fun and satisfying do-it-yourself (DIY) job. It requires no heavy equipment and has very few safety hazards. With some brushes, rollers, and painter’s tape, the whole family can contribute. Since you’ll want to open the windows, spring is an ideal time for interior painting. Mild weather is also good for exterior painting, especially in areas where humidity rises in the summer.
2. Revamp Your Lawn
Spring is the perfect time to spruce up your yard with new landscaping. If you maintain your own lawn, you’ll be doing some spring cleanup anyway, removing dead leaves or stalks from perennial plants, pruning trees and shrubs, and preparing to fertilize. Once the last frost of the season has passed, you can plant trees, shrubs, and flowers.
You can also refresh your turfgrass by overseeding or planting new patches as needed. Both soil fertilization and preventative weed control work best when applied in the spring. “Weed and feed” fertilizers can simultaneously inhibit crabgrass growth and nourish your new plants throughout the season. If you prefer organic methods, compost is an excellent fertilizer, and you won’t have to worry about overfertilizing and exhausting the nutrients in the soil.
Lawn improvements are highly customizable to your taste and budget. You can do a little pruning and reseeding or renovate the entire landscape. Many of these projects are DIY-friendly, though they may require sustained effort over time to make sure new vegetation takes root. If you choose to put in new grass and plants, spring is also a great time to install a sprinkler system to help with long-term upkeep.
3. Clean Your Gutters
A home’s gutter system is very important for directing water away from the foundation, particularly as spring and summer storms set in. If your gutters are clogged or broken, they won’t be able to do their job, and you may be setting yourself up for potential flooding and structural damage. Since fall and winter tend to create plenty of debris to clog your gutters, cleaning them out in early spring is usually a good idea.
To clean your gutters most efficiently, wait until the debris has dried out. Start near the downspout and scoop debris into a waste bucket for easy disposal—dumping it into your yard only creates an unsightly problem for later. When you’ve removed the bulk of debris, you can flush the gutters clean with a hose. Remember to practice good ladder safety, since falling injuries are a serious hazard.
You can clean gutters from the ground with a pressure washer and a special U-shaped attachment, but take care not to use more pressure than the gutters can withstand. Also, keep in mind that you won’t have much control over where the debris ends up. You can opt to hire a professional, but make sure to get references and ask questions about methods and cleanup. There’s no special licensing needed to clean gutters, and you’ll want to ensure that you don’t end up with broken gutters and a messy yard.
4. Inspect Your AC Unit
Spring is usually the time when you’ll switch off your furnace or other heater and turn on your air conditioner. Before that happens, it’s a good idea to get your annual HVAC system inspection and tuneup. Start by dusting your vents and looking in your ductwork. Ducts don’t typically need yearly cleaning, but if there’s substantial debris or a pest infestation, you’ll want to get that taken care of first.
Keeping your system free of dust and allergens can improve air quality and make spring easier for those in your home with allergies. Changing your air filter as recommended by the AC unit’s manufacturer is a key part of maintaining air quality as well as ensuring the system’s efficiency. Similarly, you’ll want to clear any yard debris from around your AC’s outdoor condenser unit.
Finally, schedule your yearly maintenance visit with a local HVAC contractor. Getting this done in spring ensures any potential problems are caught and repaired before the heat of summer when your air conditioner is most necessary. A tuneup also includes cleaning and checking many of the system’s components to ensure it’s running at peak efficiency and your utility bills won’t be higher than necessary.
5. Install New Windows
Depending on the severity of winter and your home’s age, you may have noticed that some windows have become drafty, allowing cold in and letting heat escape. Replacing drafty or outdated windows with new, efficient models is one of the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Spring is an excellent time to schedule window replacement, helping ensure that air conditioned air will stay sealed inside when you need it.
The best replacement windows for improved energy efficiency are double-glazed and feature Energy Star and National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) labels. Depending on your local climate, you can opt for windows that are either designed to reduce heat loss or resist heat gain. Unfortunately, installing windows isn’t a DIY job. Spring is the busy season for window replacement contractors, but if you book your appointment early, you may get in before the rush and before any off-season pricing specials end.
6. Replace Siding
Sometimes a coat of paint isn’t enough. If your home’s exterior needs a facelift, consider installing or replacing your siding. Siding acts like an extra level of insulation, raising your heating and cooling systems’ energy efficiency. It also helps keep water and weather away from your home’s structure. New siding adds resale value to your home. The NAR estimates that new fiber cement siding has an 86% return on investment (ROI), and vinyl siding is right behind it at 82%.
Wood siding requires painting and staining, but it provides a unique, attractive look that few other materials can match. Synthetic siding materials like vinyl and fiber cement are lower maintenance and less expensive, and they come in various colors and textures. Brick and stone veneers are another option, though these tend to be the costliest. Aluminum is somewhere in the middle.
If it’s not time to replace your siding just yet, a pressure wash can remove stuck-on debris and grime, but make sure you stick to low water pressure and paint-safe cleaners. Additionally, some types of siding can be painted to refresh their look. Even vinyl siding can now be painted if you choose acrylic latex paint in a lighter color than the original vinyl.
7. Update Your Deck
If you want to entertain guests outside when the weather is nice, spring is the time to get your patio or deck ready. A new coat of wood stain can update your deck’s appearance and help protect it from spring rains, though you may need to power wash first. You can always add new features—like a roof, screens, lighting, or furniture—depending on your needs and the number of guests you want to accommodate.
If your home doesn’t have a deck, spring is when you could build one. Wood is less expensive as a decking material, though it actually has a higher ROI (64.8%) than pricier composite materials (62.1%), according to Remodeling magazine’s 2022 Cost versus Value Report. The only downside is that wood requires more maintenance. Harder woods such as redwood or cedar cost more, but they’re more resistant to cracking, warping, and weather damage.
Benefits of Renovating Your Home
If you’re not the type of homeowner who’s always on the lookout for your next renovation project, here are some benefits to consider.
Allows You to Customize Your Home
Renovating with your specific needs in mind can help make your home more comfortable. You can truly make your home your own, putting money into the things and spaces you’ll use the most. One of the benefits of home ownership is creating a space that fits your needs, so put some thought into the changes that will make your home a better fit for you.
Improves Your Home’s Function
Sometimes, you just need to put money into fixing what’s broken. Instead of plastering over problems as they come up, you can save money and time by overhauling the problem area or feature. Yes, it’s cheaper to patch a leaky roof than to replace it, but eventually, the cost of patching every new leak and repairing water damage will surpass the up-front price of simply getting a new roof.
Increases Your Home’s Value
Even if you don’t anticipate staying in your home for many more years, remodeling can improve your property’s value when it’s time to sell. If your top priority is resale value rather than comfort, do your research about projects that have the most value to buyers in your area. For example, the NAR’s survey found that installing or refinishing hardwood floors had the highest ROI at 118% and 147%, respectively.
Saves You Money Long-Term
When considering renovation, remember that you often get what you pay for. Price doesn’t always directly correlate to quality, but this is often the case, so be sure to balance short-term versus long-term costs when setting your budget. High-quality materials, labor, and appliances are typically more durable, meaning you won’t need to replace them as often, ultimately saving you money even when the up-front costs are higher.
The same is true of energy-efficient appliances and features. Energy Star-rated windows, light bulbs, insulation, and appliances tend to cost more up-front, but you’ll save on your utility bills over time. Your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to keep your home’s interior comfortable, so it won’t take as much electricity, natural gas, or fuel to run. As energy prices and environmental consciousness rise, efficient homes will become more and more valuable.
How to Reduce Home Improvement Project Costs
Whether you’re taking on multiple home improvement projects at once or trying to maximize your long-term investment, keeping costs low can be a priority for many homeowners. Inflation and supply chain issues have made saving money on home renovations more difficult, but there are still plenty of steps you can take to reduce costs.
- Create a budget and stick to it. Good contractors shouldn’t try to talk you into add-ons you don’t need, but be prepared to say no if something will put you in the red. Prioritizing needs over wants is key.
- Plan for overage in your budget. Renovation often exposes structural issues that you weren’t aware of, many of which will need to be fixed before you can proceed with the remodel. Experts usually recommend preparing for 10% to 15% in overruns.
- Compare estimates from multiple contractors. Many will offer free quotes, so talk to several different companies before making your choice. Be wary of anyone who offers a much higher or much lower price than others.
- Even if you’re not an experienced DIYer, you’ll be able to do parts of the project yourself, including preparation and cleanup. There may also be tasks like laying tile that, though time-consuming, don’t necessarily require extensive skill. These are the kinds of tasks to DIY.
- General contractors help to provide a more hands-off experience, but they add about 10% to 20% to your overall cost. If your project requires multiple types of subcontractors, consider coordinating the project yourself if you have the time and organizational abilities.
- Even if you opt for high-quality materials, you can often get deals by watching for sales or purchasing floor models.
- Whenever possible, reuse and refinish old materials like cabinets and flooring instead of buying new.
- Work within the current structure and layout of your home. Moving walls, especially if they’re load-bearing, adds a great deal of time and work to any remodeling project, increasing the price. The same goes for moving plumbing or gas lines.
No matter when you choose to renovate, carefully map out your vision and budget before you begin. Keep in mind that your geographic location and cost of living can affect pricing, so solicit bids from local contractors to get a better idea of what you may have to pay. We recommend speaking to at least three contractors from each subspecialty you need.
When deciding what changes you want, be realistic about the time and money you can and want to spend, but make every effort to get the results you want. Most homeowners are satisfied with their renovated homes, so don’t put off necessary repairs and remodels when you’ve got the budget for them.
7 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle Before Summer – https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/home-improvement/spring-home-improvement-projects