Whether you’re a first-time DIYer or a home improvement expert, there are a variety of projects that can significantly change your home’s value and appearance for the better—big or small. The problem, however, is figuring out which ones should be the priority projects and which should be the ones to put off until another time.
The difference between home improvement wants and needs can vary depending on a home’s current condition, but there are a few general things that can help you sort them into either category and ultimately keep you in line with what’s essential and what’s just an added bonus for your house.
The first thing that can help you determine what your project wants and needs are is your budget. And nothing helps you decide what’s a need and what’s a want quicker than when your budget has a cap. You probably need to repair a leaky roof before it becomes a larger problem, but you might want to install a deck in your backyard.
But no matter which of your wants or needs fall within your budget, there’s one thing to remember that many people often forget to think about when completing a home improvement project, and that is to have a small financial buffer for unplanned expenses. Even if you’ve budgeted out a certain number out for your project, the expenses might not come out to the same price you planned for. Perhaps you’ve built something incorrectly and now have to tear it down and start over. Maybe you’ve uncovered a new problem in the process (like water damage, a termite infestation, etc.) and now have to factor in more money to fix it. So whether you’re building something from your “wants” category or something from your “needs” category, you should always consider adding in a 15–30% financial buffer for complications that may come up unexpectedly.
- Legal Limitations
The next factor in determining what your home improvement wants and needs are is legal limitations. In the state of Florida, there are several different types of permits that must be obtained and codes that must be met in order to complete certain projects. For instance, if you are replacing a home door or window, you must obtain a permit to do so (which comes at a cost), as these projects directly affect openings in the home. They must be safe enough to withstand hurricanes and other harsh weather conditions that are often found in Florida.
The bottom line: if you are trying to figure out what your needs and wants are, first determine whether or not you will need a permit, how much it will cost, how long it will take to obtain it and if it’s worth it to obtain based on the budget you have available right now.
Another way to determine what is necessary and what can wait is to see if your proposed project is functional for your space. Perhaps you’ve determined that replacing your windows falls into your “needs” category. The next step is to find out which windows are the most functional for your home, whether it be vinyl windows, aluminum windows, composite windows, vinyl clad wood windows or something similar.
Even if you have the budget for completing something from your “wants” category, such as adding in a pool to your backyard or replacing your garage door for a more stylish one, the most important way to determine if certain products are right for your home is to see if they’re functional first.
If you’ve made a list of home improvement projects and still can’t figure out what the wants versus the needs are, try estimating the long-term value each one might add to your home. Even your wants should end up increasing the value of your home, such as upgrading your trim and molding to something more sleek, putting in a deck in your backyard, etc.