5 Home Improvement Projects for the New Year 5 Home Improvement Projects for the New Year

It happens every January. Motivated by the sense of a fresh start for tackling those home improvement projects that never got done the year before, many of my clients come to me with a wish list of to-dos--primarily inspired by the latest trends in design and remodeling. This year I thought I would beat them to the punch and compile my own list of what I think contractors--and DIYers--will be called upon to do the most in 2013.

1. Install Garage Organization Systems

Why it’s popular: Getting organized is probably the top New Year’s resolution of home improvement enthusiasts. What’s great about starting out with the garage is that the area can then serve a workshop for other projects. Plus, there are just tons of options to choose from in home improvement stores.

Expert tip: It may sound obvious, but remember to leave room for car.

2. Update Lighting

Why it’s popular: Again, because there are so many great options to select from. Home owners can add recessed lights, spotlights, ceiling fans (with light fixtures), under cabinet lights… the list of interesting styles of lights available looks to continue to grow in 2013. My personal favorite for really making an impact fast is the addition of a tube skylight. They can be installed in less than a day and they bring sunlight directly into the home, but they have the profile of a recessed light, so they won’t draw too much focus in the room.

Expert tip: Be warned, the better your lighting, the worse your makeshift drywall patches look.

3. Purchase Standby Home Generator

Why it’s popular: Ranging from $800 to $10,000, depending on the size, these were selling out all over the northeast when Superstorm Sandy hit so are still fresh on the brain for many. For ease of use you can choose to have a manual transfer switch installed in your electric panel so the generator can run your house directly, instead of having to lay out a web of extension cords.

Expert tip: Usually when the power is out, the cable is out, but if you have a dish you can watch still watch TV when the generator kicks on.

4. Replace Windows and Doors

Why it’s popular: Fresh start. The beginning of year always has people thinking about ways to make their home more energy efficient. Air leaks from your old windows and doors are taxing on your HVAC and expensive on your utility bills. Replacing the old with new materials and solid seals will save you money in the long run and improve the look of your home. This will take from a weekend to a week to complete, depending on the size of your home, but the benefits will last for decades.

Expert tip: Be sure to choose or request a well-known, well-researched window brand. Most companies have a lifetime warranty on the windows but that is no good if the manufacturer is out of business.

5. Renovate the Kitchen and Bath

Why it’s popular: With simple solutions like just updating paint and cabinet pulls or adding a backsplash, to larger projects like gutting whole kitchens and baths, these two rooms are without a doubt the first to be focused on when planning out a year in home improvement.

Expert tip: Plan well in advance before you make any changes and make sure supplies are on site. You don’t want to be without a kitchen for an extra week because your custom teak countertops are stuck in Brazil.

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