Sunny spring weather doesn’t mean homeowners get a holiday from property maintenance. In fact, it means the opposite.
Property owners lucky enough to dodge the spring real-estate rat race in pursuit of purchasing a single-family home might believe they’re off the hook this season. Not so: Spring is the perfect time to start thinking about renovating your home, or different ways to otherwise add value to your largest asset.
If you’ve already bought a home, and you’re fine with it looking 20 years out of date in a decade’s time, then by all means, sit back and do nothing. But based on how rapidly interior styles, exterior features, and buyers’ demands change, I’d recommend committing to one improvement annually for as long as you own your house. Most owners don’t accomplish much during the winter—and who could blame them? But as we move into May, give some thought to a few of the following trouble areas.
› #postwinterproblems. Once the snow melts, a survey of your property becomes like peeling back a band-aid to see the injury underneath. There could be water in your basement, cracks in your stucco, worn-out shingles, bricks that need tuckpointing, and maybe an air conditioner that died during the long, cruel cold season. Many owners postpone these fixes because they feel they don’t “get anything” out of it, but if left unchecked, issues resulting from a harsh winter will only worsen when the next one hits.
› Landscaping. I’m not talking about planting a few trees here; I mean a full-on backyard revolution! Today’s buyers put greater stock in the look and functionality of yard space, with an assist from features like new fencing with privacy lattice and/or deep, dug-out garden beds with perennial flowers—ones that don’t require a lot of maintenance. Sure, it’s wild, but green space is worth serious consideration. One of my clients has three kids, and let them each pick a tree from Home Depot to plant in the backyard. (I wonder what that foliage will look like when the kids head off to university?)
› Useable outdoor space. Don’t be afraid to tear down that 30-year-old rotting deck that gives your children splinters, or that useless six-by-eight-foot deck that a less-than-reputable developer built in your 60-by-30-foot yard. Get rid of the space-consumers and start over. There’s a reason why Deck Wars is a hit show on HGTV—people are dying for room to move in their yards these days. While you’re at it, consider building an interlocking-brick or flagstone patio to add a secondary area for entertaining (and sitting).
› Storage. Right about now, spring cleaning is on everyone’s mind, which, for some, amounts to a giant purge of unused stuff. I certainly don’t advocate hoarding, but I do think most homeowners do a terrible job of maximizing their storage space, whether that means the shelving in your kitchen pantry or the flimsy plastic racks you placed along your basement wall. Invest in some long-term, durable, and, most importantly, functional storage solutions, and you’ll triple your stashing space. (Caution: This does not mean you should save triple the junk.)
› Paint. Boring? Perhaps. But wow, does a new coat ever inject some life into your interiors. Winter is dark, dreary, and tiring, and those neutral grey and brown walls you’ve got are a pretty good representation of that headspace. I’m not suggesting you paint all of your walls yellow, but a wall-to-wall refresher will enliven the space considerably.
› Street number. This is hardly what most people would consider an undertaking, but have you ever given thought to how your street number looks on your front door or against the brick of your home? If you hate its font, colour, size, or anything else about your digits, why not spend an hour (and about $50) to change that?
Some of these aforementioned suggestions are simple and cheap, while others are more costly and complicated. But taking on a few small jobs (or one large one) each year will help to keep your pad current. A home is the largest asset you’ll ever own, so bare-bones maintenance isn’t enough—you have to add value to it, too. Especially if you could be one of those lucky sellers come next spring.