How to Prioritize Home Improvements After Buying a House

Have you just purchased a new home and found yourself faced with an overwhelming amount of improvement projects? While becoming a homeowner for the first, second, or twelfth time is exciting, it often comes with a laundry list of improvements and repairs. If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks and need help knowing where to start, you’re not alone. Learning how to prioritize home improvements is a common concern for new homeowners after buying a house.

At Lamont Bros. Design & Construction, we’ve guided countless homeowners through the challenges of improving a newly purchased property. With years of experience in custom home remodeling, we understand the intricacies involved in making a house truly feel like a home.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to prioritize your home improvements effectively. Once you’re done reading, you’ll have a better understanding of how to prioritize your home improvements after buying a house. We’ll discuss:

Step 1: Address the Necessities

The top priority in any home improvement journey should be to tackle the necessities. These are the projects that make your home livable and safe. From ensuring your roof keeps you dry to updating old or dangerous mechanical systems, these improvements are the non-negotiables of home improvement.

For most of these projects, your home inspection should have provided you with some insights into the status of your new home’s main safety challenges before you purchased it. After buying a house, these are the types of home improvements you should prioritize before you move in.

Roof and Structural Repairs

Roofing and structural issues with the home should be at the top of your list. An old or leaking roof can lead to more costly issues down the line, such as water damage, dry rot, and mold. Many homebuyers include roof repair as a contingency to the home purchase, requesting that the seller make the repairs before the sale is finalized. If you discover that your roof needs repair after the fact, it’s still important to address this issue quickly to avoid further damage to the home.

Structural issues in the home can also present a serious danger if left unaddressed. For example, older homes often have foundations that do not meet seismic codes. This makes the home more susceptible to earthquake damage. A seismic retrofit can help address concerns with a compromised foundation.

Heating and Cooling Systems

A functional heating and cooling system is essential for both comfort and safety in your home. Old or inefficient HVAC units can inflate utility bills, compromise indoor air quality and in some cases, impose risk of fire.

Especially in the Pacific Northwest, which sees major temperature fluctuations throughout the year,  a reliable HVAC system is crucial for handling extreme seasonal temperatures. Upgrading your HVAC can also add to your home’s resale value and help you comply with energy-efficiency regulations.

remodel contractor working on a roof
Roof repairs are a top priority after buying a house

Electrical and Plumbing

Ignoring electrical and plumbing deficiencies in your home can be equally dangerous. Faulty wiring, such as outdated knob and tube systems, poses a serious fire hazard and should be replaced.

Similarly, the presence of hazardous or faulty materials like lead or CPVC in older plumbing systems can lead to health concerns and flooding risks. These types of outdated plumbing and electrical systems in the home should be updated to avoid safety hazards and potential damage to the home.

Establishing Your Budget: A Comprehensive Guide

When trying to prioritize home improvements after buying a house, establishing a budget is a crucial step that dictates the scope and quality of the projects you’re able to do. Here’s how to go about it:

Understanding Your Out of Pocket Budget

The first step is to understand how much you can afford to spend out of pocket. Take a close look at your savings, monthly income, and other financial commitments. Once you have a clear picture, you can set a cash budget that aligns with your financial comfort zone.

Consider a Home Renovation Loans

If you’ve just bought a fixer-upper, you might want to consider a renovation loan. This type of loan allows you to borrow more than the home’s purchase price to cover the cost of improvements.

For example, if the home costs $600,000, but the cost of renovations is expected to be $300,000, you could get a renovation loan to cover the entire cost of $900,000. Financial institutions can guide you through this process. At Lamont Bros., we’ve had excellent success working with the lenders at Mann Mortgage in West Linn.

Budget for Functionality over Aesthetics

It’s essential to strike a balance between aesthetic upgrades and functional improvements. If your kitchen is functional but not to your taste, you might focus on other areas of the home with more urgent needs and allocate a smaller portion of your budget for minor kitchen upgrades later on.

Work with Remodeling Design Experts

Consulting with professionals can help you make the most of your budget. At Lamont Bros., we have extensive experience in helping homeowners design projects to get the most value for their money. Whether it’s deciding between a kitchen or bathroom remodel or understanding how to maximize the return on investment of a renovation loan, our team can guide you through the process.

remodel design meeting
Working with professional designers can help ensure your project stays within budget.

Step 3: Improve the Home’s Functionality & Comfort

After the necessities and budget considerations, focus on projects that will make you happier and more comfortable in your new home.

Kitchen and Bathroom

Typically, the kitchen and/or bathrooms are the first rooms homeowners want to renovate. Because you’ll spend so much time in both of these spaces, they will have a significant impact on your daily life and should be tailored to suit your style and needs.

Typical kitchen improvements include updating the layout, upgrading the cabinets, and replacing the appliances. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, your kitchen may require a larger portion of your renovation budget. A typical kitchen remodel costs between $100,000-$175,000, but they can be more or less expensive based on the scope of changes you want to make.

For bathroom remodeling, many homeowners tend to replace old fiberglass shower-tub combos with custom tile showers or freestanding bathtubs. Most bathroom remodels fall in the $50,000-100,000 range. Half-bathrooms and powder rooms are less expensive, while primary suites cost more.

An outdated or awkwardly arranged kitchen should be a priority for remodeling after buying a home.

Flooring and Paint

Flooring and paint are often underestimated but can significantly impact your home’s ambiance and value. The colors you choose set the mood, while the type of flooring affects both aesthetics and functionality. These upgrades are typically more cost-effective and can be completed quickly, offering a high return on investment.

As you consider your options for paint and flooring, keep in mind that lighter shades can make spaces feel larger, while darker tones add coziness.

Also, consider how your lifestyle can affect your flooring needs. Whether you opt for hardwood, laminate, vinyl, or tile, the material you choose can impact the required maintenance and durability of your floors.

For instance, hardwood floors are timeless and add a touch of elegance but require regular upkeep. Laminate and vinyl offer a more budget-friendly and low-maintenance option. Tile is unparalleled in its longevity, customizability, and appearance, but is by far the most expensive flooring option due to the cost of installation.

Step 4: Improve the Home’s Appearance/Aesthetic

While functional and essential repairs should be your priority, don’t overlook projects that enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home. These upgrades may not be strictly necessary for day-to-day living, but they can significantly improve your quality of life and increase your home’s value.

Cosmetic Upgrades: Small Changes, Big Impact

Cosmetic upgrades can be both affordable and impactful. Consider updating light fixtures to bring a modern touch to your living spaces. LED lights, for example, are not only energy-efficient but also come in various styles and color temperatures to suit your home’s aesthetic.

Improving the cosmetic appearance of otherwise functional spaces a great way to make the home more “you” when there’s extra money in the budget. For example, if you like your kitchen’s layout and features, but want to add some character to the space, a cosmetic refresh is a great option. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to leave your cabinets as they are and simply replace surface finishes like backsplash, countertops, flooring, and light fixtures. Bathrooms are also great candidates for cosmetic upgrades if you’re happy with their functionality and layout.

Landscaping: The First Impression Counts

A well-maintained garden or a new patio doesn’t just look good; it also boosts your home’s curb appeal. Whether it’s a simple lawn care routine, planting seasonal flowers, or installing a water feature, landscaping projects can transform your outdoor space into a welcoming extension of your home.

Ready to Start Improving Your Newly Purchased Home?

Now that you understand more about how to prioritize home improvements after buying a house, do you feel confident in taking the next steps? If so, download our free 3-step guide on choosing a remodeling contractor. You’ll get all the resources and information you need to find and hire a contractor who understands your vision for your home.

Want to get the ball rolling on your home improvement projects? If you’re ready to start designing how your newly purchased home could look and feel, click the button below to schedule a free consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll help you navigate the challenges of home renovations and prioritize your projects so your new home becomes your dream home.