Most Popular Home Improvement Projects

I have several home improvement projects on my list for the coming year, and am wondering what the most popular categories are so that I can get on contractors' calendars in plenty of time. Also, is now too soon to plan for jobs to be done in late spring and summer?

Now is actually the perfect time to plan for and schedule those warm-weather projects, especially if a contractor will be involved. You'll have extra competition in popular categories of course, so take time to prioritize and think through what you can reasonably handle on your own versus what requires professional help; otherwise, you could wind up in over your head with an undone project and stormy weather approaching.

Following are the top ten projects that Leslie Segrete and I get calls about on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show's consider these as you plan home updates for next year.

Flooring: Installing laminate or ceramic or vinyl tile is a doable DIY job, as is refinishing a hardwood floor. For more complicated hardwood, carpet or vinyl installations, go with a pro.

Plumbing: Take minor fixture replacements into your own hands, but work with a plumber for room reconfigurations and installation of larger fixtures.

HVAC: This is definitely the province of the pros, but it's up to you to understand your current system and research options for improvements and additions before a consultation.

Walls and ceilings: Most DIYers have the skill to apply new wallcoverings, patch cracks, and clean surfaces. Going deeper than the surface, however, leads to structural, electrical and sometimes plumbing elements that are unwise to tackle without experience.

Windows and siding: You may be able to see your way clear to a window installation or two, but bigger changes to your home's building envelope bring extra complications. Research options that will work for your home's style and construction, as well as contribute to energy savings.

Kitchen and bath: There's a pretty wide spectrum of DIY possibilities here, with professional trades joining the party as you move toward more complex redesigns and structural changes.

Roofing: Before bringing in the professionals, do an honest assessment as to whether repair or replacement is in order, and shop the materials and possible price ranges involved.

Basements and crawl spaces: A little detective work goes a long way in these zones, and most improvements are DIY-able.

Mold eradication: Record the appearance and progress of any mold sightings and any possible related health issues, and bring in a professional to help arrest this threat to a home's structure and inhabitants.

Insulation and ventilation: Get to know your home's systems so that you can tend to minor upgrades and improvements, and have a pro handle larger-scale insulation additions.

Reaching Tom:  For more tips, sign up for Tom's free e-newsletter here.  If you have a home improvement question or comment on this topic, please post it below.  For answers to other home improvement questions, please email Tom at helpme@moneypit.com so your question can be used in future blog entries, or search Tom's home improvement articles at moneypit.com.

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