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Congratulations on becoming a new homeowner. You’re probably thinking about what renovations you want to start with in your new home. The good news is that RenoFi can help finance some of the home renovations on your to-do list. 

But, you may still be wondering which renovations actually make sense to spend money on first. 

Read our guide to learn which home remodel projects make the most sense to get to first after buying a new home - and why. 

Initial Considerations

Assess Your Needs

Before you start setting everything up, it’s important to reduce the clutter and stay organized. Evaluate your needs and wants as you walk through room by room. 

After you do this, create a wish list of your needs and wants in each area. While you may not be able to complete everything, you’ll be better prepared for renovations if you have a clear picture of what you want in your mind and can describe it on paper.

In the meantime, it’s also important to think about exactly how you’d like to renovate. 

Think about:

  • What’s your personal style? 
  • What’s even possible - are you aware of the different options you could choose from to update your home? 
  • What’s most important to you? 
  • Are you mainly interested in cosmetic improvements or are there repairs that need to be made?
  • Can you do the work yourself or do you need to hire help? 

These are questions to ask yourself before getting started settling in.

In general, you’ll probably start with needs rather than wants. 

It’s smart to think of the structure of the home first, so you don’t end up with any major problems later on. 

Electrical issues can also pose a potential fire hazard, and plumbing issues could cause damage in the future. 

If in the Budget, Hire Help

If you haven’t already, consider hiring a home inspector to take a close look at the major systems of your home and potential hazards with the roof, structure, electrical, and plumbing. 

There’s a good chance you did this before purchasing, and already have some potential ideas. If there were any issues that stood out to you/your realtor, that’s a good place to start. 

You may also want to seek a general contractor’s advice to see what projects are most urgent, and what can wait.

When it comes to the nitty gritty of your wish list, consider hiring an expert to create a cost estimate for your renovations. 

This way, you’ll get a better idea of how much money you’ll need to accomplish each item on the list and what you can afford to do first.

Do it Now, or Wait?

As previously mentioned, always tackle the structural issues or problems with major systems in the house first, including leaks and water penetration. 

Subsequent projects–including insulation, drywall, trim, hardwood floors–will be impacted by those larger issues.

It is advisable to replace damaged windows that may impact future remodeling work, but if the window is not seriously damaged, you can leave window replacement for later. 

Also, if the siding is so damaged or cracked that water may infiltrate it, replace it. But if it is not seriously damaged, it is ok to wait and repair it later down the line. 

So, to summarize, these are the items to look at first:

  • Electrical work
  • Heating
  • Leaks/water penetration
  • Plumbing work
  • Roof replacement
  • Structural integrity issues

The next tier of items after these crucial projects:

  • Insulation
  • Drywall 
  • Trim
  • Hardwood floors

All of these non-cosmetic upgrades are projects you should move to the top of your to-do list for safety reasons.

Always Put Safety First

First be sure that all heating, cooling, and electric items in the home are working properly. Make sure to fix any tripped electrical breakers.

Hazardous issues should always take precedence over the other home improvements on your list, for obvious reasons.

We don’t recommend DIYing any of these projects, unless you’re experienced. Seek professional advice as you move forward with any electrical, plumbing, or HVAC fixes. 

Start with the Kitchen

Many people choose the kitchen as the first room to renovate for several reasons:

  • Homeowners want to make a good impression, and it is one of the rooms where you and anyone that visits will spend a lot of time. Overall, it’s one of the most used rooms in the home.
  • New, modern appliances can conserve energy and save costs on monthly bills.

The only downside is that kitchen renovations are quite expensive depending on your project. Prices for a kitchen renovation vary greatly depending on the work you want done, the size of your kitchen, and the materials. 

Here are the top tips for starting on your kitchen renovation:

  1. If you want to remove a wall to open up more space in your home, hire a professional, and complete any structural work first. 
  2. You can also save money by refinishing and painting cabinets rather than buying new ones. 
  3. The most crucial aspects of the kitchen renovation are flooring, appliances, and countertops. 
  4. Consider renovating your kitchen before you move in so you aren’t left without cooking capabilities for weeks.

Prioritize the Bathroom

Another very popular type of home renovation to start with besides the kitchen is the bathroom. 

Like the kitchen, this is an important room for homeowners and guests, with varying degrees of renovation costs, depending on what work is done.

Here are our top tips for starting on your kitchen renovation:

  1. It may involve disturbing plumbing or electricity, in which case: always hire a professional.
  2. Other smaller projects that still make an impact include changing out toilets, vanities, or new tiles. 
  3. Consider simple cosmetic changes like painting and new fixtures to give your bathroom a more modern look without the expense of replacing plumbing.

Renovate Flooring Before Bringing in the Furniture

If you’re interested in the renovation projects mentioned above, it’s smart to lay tile or plank the floors before all of the furniture is placed. 

While flooring can be expensive, there are lots of material options that are cheaper than natural wood. You can save costs on laminate, vinyl planks, and synthetic flooring over real wood and tile.

Improve Curb Appeal with Landscaping

Both interior and exterior renovations are important to consider. You won’t want your children playing in a backyard with poison ivy, overgrown weeds, or a rocky and uneven surface. 

Take a look around at your neighborhood, and recognize which renovations make a good return on investment, and which will be considered overdoing it for the area.

To make yourself feel more welcome in the new neighborhood you now call home, and improve your curb appeal to future neighbors/guests, you may want to spend some time in the yard. 

Lay down grass, and put in plants that will grow for years to come and provide more privacy for your home. It’s always best to start now to give plants and trees more time to grow in your yard.

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