Temperatures are rising. Days are getting longer. Flowers are blooming. As your attention – and time – moves outdoors, you may find summer home-improvement projects rising to the top of your list.
From quick DIY tasks to more extensive projects requiring professional help, making needed home improvements can increase enjoyment of your time outside, as well as go a long way toward maintaining and increasing the value of your home. Here, we outline eight projects that will be worth checking off your list.
1). Inspect the roof. If you have a shingled roof, get a pair of binoculars and check for any damaged or missing shingles. Also, check your records to find out how old your roof is. (If you don’t have this information handy, check with your home insurance company.)
Compare the age to the lifetime rating of your roof to get a good idea of a replacement time frame. If you find that your roof is past two-thirds of its life expectancy, you may want to have a trusted professional inspect it. And if you’ve reached 50% of the life expectancy of the shingles, it’s a good idea to start budgeting for eventual replacement.
If you have a cedar shake shingle roof, use your binoculars to scan for any moss. Because of the inherent fire danger with these types of roofs, you also may also want to talk with your insurance company about replacement cost.
If you have a flat or rubberized roof, make sure there are no large piles of debris that may hold water, and that the drains are not covered up.
If you do decide that you need a new roof, research and talk with a few roofing contractors. In many parts of the country, summer may not be the ideal time to re-roof. It’s often too hot, and frequently, contractors will be booked. It is, however, a great time to schedule for the fall.
2.) Clean out gutters. It helps promote rain drainage, and eliminates clogs and problems caused by leaves and other debris.
3). Spruce up the yard. You may want to fertilize the lawn, and buy plants, shrubs and trees. Don’t just jump into a tree- pruning project, though. As some trees are best-pruned when they are dormant (fall or winter), and some are best-pruned when they are leaved out, make an appointment with a tree expert for input.
If you live in a drought-prone area, this is an excellent time to investigate any local-municipality tax credits for replacing high-water plants and grasses. And no matter where you live, if you’re looking to re-landscape the entire yard, know that it could be hard to find a landscape architect or contractor. You still can make preliminary plans to get the design done in the fall or winter, and learn what, if any, HOA approvals you’ll need.
4). Test the sprinkler system – for operation and efficiency. You don’t want sprinklers overlapping too much, overwater or underwater, If you need help, call a landscape company or sprinkler contractor.
5). Paint. Is it time for exterior paint? Telltale signs include: loose or chipping paint; paint with a chalky appearance; rust on any nail heads; and cracks, especially around windows. If you’re unsuccessful in finding a painting crew available this summer, this is the time to schedule for fall. And, if it has been four or more years since the last exterior painting, start budgeting now.
6). Wash the driveway. Renting a power washer for the driveway and sidewalks can be especially helpful in the east, Midwest, and south, where mildew and discolorations are common. Check for any damage caused by winter freezing, such as pitting of the surface. Problems? Speak with a concrete contractor.
7). Stain the deck. Many homeowners put new coats of stain on decks in the spring. It looks better and extends the life of the deck.
8). Take care of water pipes. For those with water pipes prone to freezing in the winter, consider wrapping the pipes in heat tape now, while it’s warmer out. However, since heat tape is powered by electricity, it needs to be plugged in. If you don’t have power where the pipes are (e.g., under a sink), you’d need to install an entire electrical system, which could be cost-prohibitive.
How to prepare, and offset, expenses
Some of your home-improvement projects can be DIY. Those that require professional help can be expensive. Make sure you have a household spending plan – aka budget – in place. You really can’t know what you have to spend on what, or what each item will cost, until you write it all down. In the Expenses section, itemize all home-improvement costs you expect to encounter this spring and summer.
Once you have everything written down, you’ll likely need to modify somewhat. Maybe a graduation present will be modest, vacation plans will change or you’ll only re-landscape part of the garden. Some homeowners look to bring in extra income during the summer months, doing yard and garden week, babysitting, housesitting or even tutoring students who need help before school starts up in the fall.
Funds available through home equity can be a great source for these projects, too. With a home equity agreement, a homeowner can receive cash up front in exchange for a portion of their home’s future value. Homeowners can buy back their equity at any time during the agreement term (usually 10 years), often when the home is sold.
Just as you winterize your house, it’s important to take action in warmer weather to maintain and update your home. It pays off!
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