Older homes have a certain charm that is difficult to replicate with a new build, which is part of what makes them so appealing to many buyers. However, any homeowner with an older house understands that this charm comes at a price. Maintaining this type of home often means constant repairs and renovations to bring it up to snuff, and all of these projects can quickly add up.
There are two measures by which you should evaluate potential home improvements: how much they will cost and the time they will take. Simply put, a good home improvement project is one that is worth the time and money investment.
Is it Worth the Money?
To answer this question, you first need to figure out how much a project is going to cost you. Most of this information can easily be found online. For instance, this incredibly useful infographic from HomeAdvisor details the average costs for 57 common home improvement projects, as well as the highest and lowest amounts you can realistically expect to pay for a professional job.
Do bear in mind, though, that your home’s age can impact the cost. Homeowners with houses built before 1960 tend to spend, on average, more than twice in ongoing maintenance costs than their modern-build counterparts. This becomes particularly tricky for certain types of projects. The older the house, the more extensive (and expensive) jobs involving plumbing, electrical, and structural work will likely be.
Knowing how much a given project will cost is the first step, but determining whether this cost is worth it is a different matter. This depends on what matters to you. Do you intend to resell the house one day? If so, focus on projects with high resale value, such as the following:
● Updating kitchen and bathroom fixtures
● Installing new flooring
● Adding energy-efficient appliances
● Painting the exterior
Some improvements are money pits, but people go for them anyway because they make them happy. This is fine, as long as you understand what you are doing and are prepared to absorb the cost.
Is It Worth The Time?
Contrary to popular belief, time is not money. For many, it can even be a scarce resource. Before selecting a home project, you need to know how much time the whole thing will likely take, whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional.
If you prefer the DIY route, ask yourself if you have the time and skills for it. It’s not just about the job itself; it’s the research, the selection process, the shopping for materials, the prepping, and the clean-up as well. For most people, this is a lot of work to fit around a regular schedule, so it’s best to keep the DIY projects to ones that are small and can be completed in a weekend. If you’re really passionate about DIY but are super busy, it is always possible to carve out time in the middle of your schedule, though this requires a certain level of discipline and commitment. Otherwise, it’s best to leave bigger jobs to the pros.
If you do go for a professional, know that home improvement always lasts longer than you think it will. This is especially true for an older house with more complex requirements, where an unexpected problem can delay a project for months. Certain tips can help you keep home improvements on schedule, but be sure to always leave a buffer when you are considering how much time you can realistically live with a team of contractors in your home.
If you have an older house, you will probably have to spend either quite a bit of money or quite a bit of time (or both) on renovations. For this reason, it is worth knowing how much of both you are willing to part with when you set out. Remember that you can space out your projects across several years, and that short-term compromises can be addressed a few years down the line.