(Family Features) - Owning a home brings a lot of pleasure - and a lot of maintenance. But with a long to-do list and a short budget, how do you know which projects should get done first?
There may be plenty of more noticeable repair needs, such as a scratched countertop or squeaky floors, but it's the ones that aren't so noticeable that most often require more immediate attention.
Safety Issues. Keeping everyone safe is the highest priority. Make sure you have:
- Working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Secure door and window locks
- Appropriate childproofing
Things to repair or replace immediately:
- Damaged electrical outlets
- Damaged stairs
- Broken boards in porches and decks
- Broken windows
- Asbestos or lead
Water Damage. Leaks are obvious signs of problems. But if you can fix the problem before it gets to the leaky stage, you're much better off. Look for cracks in the foundation and brown spots on the ceiling and water stains around windows, doors, floors and cabinets. Call a professional to survey your home right away. The longer you wait, the more damage it will cause.
System-Wide Problems. Electrical, plumbing and heating/cooling systems are vital to keeping your home functioning and comfortable. Leaky pipes, faulty circuit breakers, ineffective air conditioners or heaters should be repaired by professionals as soon as possible.
Once these foundational kinds of repairs are done, you can look to improvements that will benefit your home in the long-term.
Improving Insulation. Caulking around doorways, tightening loose window frames, patching holes in the walls and replacing older windows will lower heating and cooling costs.
Exterior Improvements. Painting the house exterior, replacing the roof and re-grading the landscape to move water away from your basement are all valuable investments in protecting your home from damage later on.
Energy Upgrades. Investing in energy efficient appliances, faucets and even light bulbs will save money and resources.
Cosmetic repairs such as patching small holes or replacing molding and light fixtures are aesthetic projects that do make your home nicer. But when money is an issue and you have to prioritize, make sure you do the most important repairs first.