How to Prioritize Home Improvement Projects

Couple reading blueprints.Since we moved into our home in late 2012, my husband and I have been go, go, go with all of the improvements, renovations and small projects we have been taking on. It feels like every weekend is full of yard work, chop saws, painting and elbow grease.

We love working on our house, knowing that we are making improvements to it that add value to the property and making it our own.

We have a laundry list of things to do around the house; everything from installing shelves in the closet, to planting a garden, and re-doing the driveway. These are things that aren’t necessary to do but we are ticking them off one by one – sometimes in halves as we find something that holds up a project.

I had a conversation with a friend who also recently bought a home, and she remarked that we have been so productive with ours. She asked me how we manage to prioritize our projects and renovations. It’s not easy to put something you want to do on the back burner for something else, but that is reality as home owners due to both time and budgetary constraints.

We are weekend warriors, so we are very time limited, but we manage to figure it out. Here is how we prioritize projects around the house:

Comfort and Safety

Any project that improves your comfort and safety at home should come first. Even if it isn’t as fun. The first thing we worked on when we moved in was re-insulating the poorly insulated attic. Not only did this save us money over the long run with our heating bills, but it also made us more comfortable.

Was it fun to do? No. I would have much preferred working on the bathroom because people actually see the bathroom. But it was necessary and therefore a priority.

If you have a limited renovation budget and an inkling that you may have a mould problem, unfortunately the priority absolutely has to be the mould problem.

Time Allocation

When we first started working on projects, we stupidly started on some projects that we didn’t have enough time to complete.

We put dormers in right before we went on vacation, so they sat there half finished.

We also didn’t have the material to complete our backsplash in the bathroom so it just sat there, half finished for the better part of a year.

If you have a large project you want to start on but only time for a smaller one, just do the smaller one. Living in a construction zone, no matter how small the “construction”, will drive you nuts and having a half finished project is stressful. At least it is for me. It’s better if you can get it all done in one go, so if you have to leave the larger one for when you are on vacation that might be best.

Budgetary Constraints

Want a brand new kitchen but only have $1,000 to spend in the renovation budget for this year? You can either save the $1,000 from this year and bring it over to next year and keep saving the money until you have enough for a brand new kitchen, or you can work on another project that is a little more feasible financially but that will make you happier in the space.

I would love a whole new shower but that’s not in the budget right now, so I painted the bathroom and finally finished the backsplash instead. It has appeased my new bathroom desire, at least temporarily, and it fit well into our budget.


We will probably always have a thousand things we want to do around the house, but prioritizing them is half the battle.

How do you prioritize your projects?


How to Prioritize Home Improvement Projects — 11 Comments

  1. We have done a lot of home remodeling projects in the past. We usually prioritize based on what is most important to us and what we have the cash to pay for. With that being said, I am sick of remodeling! I hope it is all behind us for the time being.

  2. I think these are great tips, because most people don’t prioritize, they just start doing stuff. Since all of our homes are and have been future rentals, we prioritize based on how much the project increases the rent or the value of the home. Once we finally buy or build a home that we plan to live in for a long time, we will start prioritizing by how important it is to us.

    • We just started doing stuff too, and when it left a handful of half done projects, we decided we needed to prioritize better.

  3. We recently moved into our first home and definitely had to practice a lot of delayed gratification (i.e. prioritization). We didn’t like the linoleum, the carpet, or the small oven, but we realized that while we could live with those, putting insulation in the attic and fixing the leaks definitely needed to be the priority.

  4. Another thing to consider is whether the repair might get more expensive if you leave it for later or cause more expensive damage if you leave it. For example, it will likely cost the same to replace a counter top whenever you choose do it, but if you don’t replace an old furnace, you may have to suddenly replace one, without much time to shop around and look for the best deal if it breaks in the middle of winter. Also if you leave something like repairing the roof, it could start leaking and causing other problems such as rot or mold in the attic.

  5. I’ve got several DIY projects and the next one is to paint the outside of my house. It’s a big project but I’ve got all of the prep work done. I’m waiting for cooler weather before I start and can’t wait to see the results!

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