Are you considering investing into home improvement projects next year? If so, how do you prioritize the dollars you spend on your home?  Here are a few tips to help you prioritize your investment.

1. Safety first.  Safety items include handrails on stairs that have more than four steps, loose railings or boards on decks, high retaining walls with no barrier to keep children from falling and hot water heaters with no pressure release valve.  These are important items for buyers too.  Some mortgage lenders will not approve  loans on homes with  some of these safety issues.
2. Reliability is the next priority.  Reliability items cover things like heat units that are long past their life span, garage doors that do not open properly or even door locks that need replacing.  Anything that is not working well or as efficiently as it should is your next thing on the list.
 3. Annual maintenance needs to be addressed next on your list.   Set money aside every year for annual maintenanceDSC00033 and pest control. Although maintenance items may not be the most glamorous way to increase the overall value of your home, they will increase the desirability of it.  Spending thousands of dollars to upgrade a bath might not give you the return you had hoped for when the gutters are overflowing, the driveway needs to be re-sealed and there is termite tunnels on the floor joist.  Maintenance is a constant annual expense.  Plan ahead and don't let these items pile up on you.
4. Once safety,reliability, and maintenance issues are handled, then the really fun stuff can begin. Cosmetic improvements are what you have been saving for the longest.  The new tile, upgraded kitchen appliances, hardwood floors, we all love these exciting additions.  These items make the home feel new all over again.   For me, cosmetics are usually the first thing I want to spend money on, but I have to remind myself that my home is an investment.
Plan and prioritize next years home improvements to not only keeping it looking good but to also maintain your homes value.