Prioritizing Home-Improvement Projects: Tips for New Owners

newfloorJust bought a new house? Congratulations, and welcome home! Now what are you going to do?

Most new homeowners have projects and priorities already in mind when going through escrow. Of course, every home is different and requires varying degrees of budget, labor, and and resources. We spoke to a few Pacific Union real estate professionals about what they tell new owners about home-improvement priorities.

One of Pacific Union’s East Bay real estate professional recommends that, if needed, making it a priority to refinish floors before moving in because of the mess and dust the project creates. And once you’re done, you won’t have to do it again. She also recommends doing any work on the bathroom and kitchen at this time.

“If you can afford to live somewhere else, I’d definitely do this before moving in,” she says.

Other big projects you may have to tackle early on? Foundation and roofing jobs. Foundations may need repair or they may need to be completely redone if original or in disrepair. Foundation types in the Bay Area can vary based on soil type. For seismic reasons, foundations should be bolted — meaning bolts are added between the wooden framing and the concrete foundation. Owners should consult with an engineer about their home’s foundation if repairs or rebuilding is needed. And you will want an expert opinion about the remaining life span of the home’s existing roof. A few signs it might be time to put this project on the short list: Curling, cracked, or missing shingles; visible sagging; or leaks.

“You can live there during foundations and roofing most of the time,” she adds, “but it’s going to be noisy!”

One of Pacific Union’s real estate professional based in Napa County suggests a very practical (and sometimes overlooked) move-in to-do item: rekeying the locks.

“You never know who else had access to the home and who may still have keys,” he says.

Next up, he suggests having the HVAC system cleaned to make it as efficient as possible.”Chances are that the previous owner didn’t have this done, as it’s not generally the type of request that would be negotiated during the contingency period.”

One last project he recommends: painting.

A San Francisco Pacific Union real estate professional agrees. In fact, he puts painting at the top of his home-improvements list for new homeowners. When asked which three projects he recommends most for new homeowners, his responses were:

  • Paint the interior (where needed).
  • Refinish hardwood flooring and replace carpeting with new carpeting or hardwood.
  • Replace single-pane windows with dual-pane windows.

From painting floors to fixing grout and unclogging drains — head over to Houzz to see a list of 29 do-it-yourself home-improvement projects you can tackle yourself. The Simple Dollar offers 19 ways for the new homebuyer to save money, like installing ceiling fans, wrapping exposed water pipes, checking insulation, and checking for leaky plumbing.

(Photo: Flickr/Matt Patterson)

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