What Should I Renovate First?

So you are thinking of buying a house, or maybe you just moved into your new home, and you have a list of renovations you want to complete but no idea of where to start. You’re thinking, “What renovation project should I do first?” Deciding on how to prioritize your projects, let alone pick a paint color, isn’t easy! We’re here to help you organize that list and get to work!
Before you do anything inside your home, first determine the age of your roof. If the previous home owner doesn’t know when the last time it was replaced, your home inspector or a roofing contractor can give you an estimate. Most common roofing materials, like asphalt shingles, have an advertised life span of about 30 years. If you are coming up on the end you should consider replacing it before doing anything else. Is it the most exciting renovation project? No, but spending thousands repainting inside only to have a roof leak is not my idea of a fun time.
The next project to consider are those old mechanicals in the basement. Again, this isn’t a sexy project, but if your furnace or hot water heater is nearing the end of its life, its time to replace them. Who wants to wake up to no hot water or a cold house in the middle of winter? At the very least, have them serviced by a professional and get their opinion on when they need to be replaced.
Once these essentials have been checked off the list its time to get to the fun stuff! Personally, I prefer to focus on the interior before the exterior, simply because this is where I spend the majority of my time.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
From here I like to live in the home for at least a few months before jumping into a kitchen or bathroom remodel. There are several advantages to this. First, you will get a better feel for the flow of the house in its current state. This will give you ideas on how you want to layout your new kitchen to optimize the space for cooking, entertaining, and family dinners. Second, it gives you time to find inspiration on sites like Remodel It and Pinterest that fit the style and flow you are considering for your new space. And most importantly, you might need time to save up for your dream kitchen or to explore financing options. Kitchens and bathrooms can be expensive depending on the size of the space and quality of the finishes. So wait a few months, save some money, and find your inspiration before jumping into these big ticket items.
Floors and Paint
If you have the opportunity to do your floors before you move into the house, I highly recommend you take advantage. Its much easier to do them before all of your furniture is in the house and refinishing hardwood floors creates a lot of dust. Its impossible to keep it off of your belongings, so doing the floors before you move in will give you an opportunity to clean.
If you cant do your floors before you move in, typically the first project on my list is always painting. Repainting the inside gives you the most bang for your buck. It completely changes the feel of the home and it’s the perfect way to personalize the space to make it your own. Plus, if you plan to refinish your floors later and you get some paint on the floor, its not a big deal. I find its much easier to do paint touchups than floor touchups.
While you are planning your kitchen and bathroom renovations, a great next project is doing some landscaping. Even those of us with the worst green thumb can dig up those overgrown bushes, drive over to the local nursery, and buy some beautiful flowers to plant and mulch to spread. Or if you have a bigger outdoor project you cant complete on your own, like installing a new patio, go talk to the landscaping company cutting your neighbors grass. They will be happy to take on the job and can make recommendations on what kinds of plants will grow best in your area. Plus, your new neighbors will be happy you are improving the looks of the neighborhood!
Ultimately, the current condition of the home and your needs may determine the order you tackle these projects, but taking the time to plan and organize your projects are paramount. Completing projects out of order can result in thousands of wasted dollars. Happy renovating!
ProTip: Another great way to quickly improve the look of your home is to replace those old dusty light fixtures, both inside and out, with new light fixtures. New lights can improve the look and feel of your home dramatically and can be done on your own in just a few hours. Marketplaces like Wayfair are great places to find lighting options at affordable prices. When installing new lights I always play it safe and turn off the circuit breaker the lights are connect to. This cuts off all power to the light and will prevent you from getting a shock in the event someone walks into the room and accidentally flips the switch while you’re working. If you don’t feel comfortable changing your own lights, an electrician will gladly do it for you, but expect a decent wait time for them to come around and install the lights.