Buyer tip: If you’re shopping for a home now, consider a realistic time frame for “must have” changes and required maintenance.
The best time to make plans for a season is during that season in the previous year or at least two seasons ahead of that season.
• That is, this winter decide what has to be up-dated or renovated to make your home safe, fun, and comfortable next winter.
• Now is the time to think about how you want to enjoy the yard and house or recreational property during the coming summer or next fall.
If you wait until you’re in a season to arrange improvements, you may spend more on materials and labor because you’ll be in peak season. You’ll probably also discover all the best professionals are completely booked!
Here are Five Valuable Think-Ahead Home Projects That Can Add To Your Enjoyment of Your Real Estate:
#1: Add a Pool
Pool time may be a distant dream right now, but the warm months will be on you and over all too quickly if you aren’t ready for construction action as soon as winter weather breaks. Pools don’t always add value to real estate, but build on-trend and with quality products so you’ve got a better chance of improving your enjoyment of the property and its eventual saleability. Fortunately, costly elaborate excessive creations and large rectangular pools, which dominate the yard, have fallen out of favor. Elegant, simple designs are in. Longer, narrower pools set in retreat-style landscaping have grown in popularity. Shallower pools without diving boards are replacing deep, high-volume pools for water conservation. Sun shelves, assisted-exit devices, underwater windows, and infinity edges are hot items. Saltwater replaces chlorine. The posh end leans toward fully-tiled pools with color schemes that avoid Caribbean blues and tend to greys and black. You’ll get the best return by employing an experienced installer and choosing a leading-edge pool design instead of creating something with a theme-park look.
#2. Upgrade Landscaping
Garden overhauls should begin while snow covers the ground. Then there’s time to carefully consider which trees, shrubs, and plants will thrive in your climate and in your yard’s sunlight levels. Is it your intent to shift to a native-plant garden which will attract bees and butterflies or do you have a different end-point in mind? Talk to suppliers to be sure where to find what you want and at the best prices. How should your budget be allocated for the greatest impact? Don’t be satisfied with only what you can conjure up; landscapers and landscape architects have a wealth of knowledge to impart.
• Buying larger tree specimens can be transformative, but you have to commit to a consistent-care regime to ensure they thrive. What effect do you want to create?
• In wildfire areas, landscaping must also be considered for the danger it represents and that it can address. For instance, trees and shrubs set away from the house present less threat of spreading flames.
• Where drought is an issue, drought-tolerant plants, or those able to thrive with limited amounts of water, provide greenery that is self-sustaining. This environment-friendly landscaping can take a wide range of intriguing forms. At least 30 states experience drought—ranging from “abnormally dry” conditions in Florida and Massachusetts to the “exceptional drought” present in California and Nevada. To check on your state, use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Drought Monitor.
• When you’re intent on increasing accessibility, introduce raised flower beds, increased seating, and removal of trip hazards, but don’t compromise aesthetics or viewpoints.
• If your condominium unit is in a high rise, you may decide to reduce preventable bird deaths by advocating bird-friendly design and lighting. Ornithologists estimate that up to one billion birds—often including threatened species from the annual four billion bird migration—die in preventable building collisions in the United States.
#3. Drainage Matters
Flooding is a growing threat in many areas. How vulnerable is your home? How far away is the nearest river, stream, or lake? Is your property graded or leveled, so that rainwater and run-off are guided away from your home and out-buildings? Gutters, foundation-weeping tiles, and other drainage systems need regular inspection, maintenance, and upgrading, especially since many areas are experiencing greater rainfall than ever before. Excessive rain may cause persistent settling and flooding, which in turn damages buildings and decking. Get outside in bad weather to discover exactly what’s happening to the water around your house.
#4. Improve Heating/Cooling
If you don’t have your heating and cooling systems inspected and maintained each year, you’re setting yourself up for a heating or cooling failure during the season warmth is wanted or disliked. What was the recommended life of the heating and cooling systems you installed or inherited? If a twenty-year limit is fast approaching, time to start researching what type of heating or cooling system will best suit your home and your needs now versus why that system was chosen years ago. You may decide to supplement existing systems with solar- or wind-powered equipment. Which fuel types do you have to choose from? How much renovation or improvement to the ducts, insulation, or wiring will be required to improve efficiency? Decide whether renting or owning the new equipment is the best financial move. Are there any subsidies, grants, or payment plans available to manage costs?
#5. Minimize Construction Impact
If a house will be built near yours or a major construction project is planned in your neighborhood, you’d be wise to take videos of your house and garage, inside and out, floor and ceiling shots, so you can prove your buildings were crack-free before the heavy work began. This documentation is a good idea if weather conditions are becoming extreme and there’s more damage done with each storm.
Suggestion: Think ahead a few years to consider how easy it will be to buy parts for any equipment or systems you buy.
Think-ahead projects, like the five above, also allow you time to be creative or innovative with your solutions, rather than making do with what you can pull together in an emergency repair:
• Visit home shows and related consumer shows to gather ideas and supplier names regarding new alternatives, practical solutions, and emerging trends.
• Inspiration abounds online and in social media, but don’t be too gullible. If solutions or suggestions sound too good to be true, they probably are. Watch out for scams and fraud among the “you won’t believe how easy this is” pitches.
• Ask friends and family what they’ve done and which suppliers and installers they’ve used. They’ll often volunteer “if we’d started differently…” or “if only we’d known…” advice.