10 home projects to start saving for now

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | March 9, 2016

outdoor fire pitIf the groundhog is to be believed, spring should have been here days ago and summer is right around the corner. However, even if you don't make plans based upon Groundhog Day predictions, it's a foregone conclusion that at some point we'll shed the heavy coats and head outside for the sunshine.

You want to be ready for those days, right?

That means you should start saving now for your summer-time home projects. If you need a little inspiration, here are 10 things to put on your to-do list for this year.

1. Repair winter damage

The first item on our list isn't much fun, but it really is a must-do. Wind, ice, and snow from winter storms can lift shingles off roofs, dislodge gutters, and loosen siding. Do a thorough inspection and make needed repairs this summer so you'll be ready when the cold winds blow in again.

2. Upgrade the deck

On a beautiful summer day, you'll want to lounge outside and enjoy the warm breeze. That will be easier to do if you have a fabulous deck attached to your house. Start saving now so you can build, expand, or repair your deck so it'll be in prime condition for summer relaxation.

3. Create an outdoor kitchen

While you're at it, consider adding an outdoor kitchen to your home. These living spaces are all the rage and can help keep your house cool by taking the cooking outside. Plus, they can be a stylish backdrop for when you want to eat al fresco. This Old House estimates a basic outdoor kitchen could run $3,000 while higher end models may be five times as much. Either way, you'd better start saving now.

4. Build a fire pit

Another way to build some outdoor ambiance in the summer is to create a fire pit with seating. You could hire out the work or go the DIY route. Depending on how elaborate your plans, this can be an affordable way to enjoy your outdoor living space long after the sun sets.

5. Update your landscaping and drainage

Have you dreamed of having ornamental trees or gorgeous flowers in your yard? Now is the time to start saving to make those dreams happen. Your lawn may also need a little TLC so don't forget to budget for grass seed and fertilizer as well. Finally, don't overlook the drainage around your house. If you regularly have a wet basement, consider whether it's time to add some rocks along the foundation or take other steps to move rainwater away from your house.

6. Fence-in the yard

A final outdoor summer project to consider is fencing in your yard. If you have small children or pets, a fence can provide peace of mind. Fences can also be decorative and attractive additions to your landscaping. However, depending on the size of your yard and the type of fencing you want, this project could cost you thousands. Start saving your pennies now.

7. Add central air

While central air conditioning is essential in the south, people in other parts of the country may be enduring the summer heat with nothing but fans blowing hot air. If you're in the latter group, maybe this is the year you upgrade to central air. Angie's List estimates average costs may be around $3,000-$5,000 but think about how refreshing it will feel on a 90 degree day.

8. Install ceiling fans

Maybe central air is out of your price range. In that case, you could start saving for a cheaper option: ceiling fans. These won't keep your house as cool as air conditioning, but they can make warm rooms more comfortable. As a bonus, in the winter, you can reverse a ceiling fan's direction so it will push warm air down to keep you feeling cozy.

9. Replace old windows

Replacing windows may seem like a winter project since that's usually when we think about drafts. But who wants to take their windows out when the temperature is nearing zero? Take care of this project in the summer. Plus, energy efficient windows will reap savings in the summer since leaky panes will make your air conditioner work harder.

10. Seal or repair your driveway

Don't neglect your driveway this summer either. Sealcoating asphalt and repairing concrete cracks can be significantly cheaper than replacing a crumbling drive. You may be able to do this work yourself but hiring a pro may only cost a couple hundred dollars and save you from slaving away in the hot sun.

Snow may still be on the ground in parts of the country, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be thinking about summer already. Start saving now for these 10 home projects so you can get them done right away and then move on to the important work of enjoying every summer day to its fullest.