Spring: the season to spruce up the house

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | February 19, 2015

Everything seems to come alive in the spring. We shake off our winter weariness, take a long look around, and what do we see?

The house could use some work.

How will you spend your weekends this spring? The Home Depot is betting you'll be making home improvements, or at least buying the supplies. They're hiring 80,000 part-time employees to handle the anticipated seasonal business. You should follow their lead by planning ahead, too. It's not too early to compile your list of spring home maintenance or renovation projects, unless you want to wind up spending another summer wishing you'd fixed that leaky roof before April's showers or finished the deck ahead of the August heatwave.

Checking some of the following items off your spring to-do list can keep needed home maintenance from turning into catastrophic repairs later. Other spring home improvement projects may bring enjoyment for years to come and also pay off with a good return on your investment if you decide to sell your home in a few years.

Top maintenance to-dos for spring

Making repairs after winter weather finishes wreaking havoc on your home should be a priority before you start your beautification projects. The National Center for Healthy Housing suggests you inspect for and resolve any issues found in these areas of your home, both inside and out, during the spring:

  • Air-conditioners and dehumidifiers: Clean drain pans and coils. Replace filters.
  • Appliances: Clean exhaust fans and dryer vent outlets and screens. Check bath and kitchen fan operation. Test ground fault interrupters (GFI) and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Attic and roof: Look for signs of roof leaks in the attic. Make sure gutters are unclogged and channeling water away from the house. Check condition of shingles, roof valleys, flashings, and plumbing vents. Clear exhaust ducts of obstructions.
  • Basement: The floor drain, sump pump, and valve should be functioning properly, and there should be no puddles.
  • Exterior walls: Check for peeling paint and damaged siding.
  • Garage: Look for water damage, signs of pests, and proper garage door and safety shut-off operation. Take inventory of what you have stored, and declutter. Secure fuel cans and other hazardous materials safely.
  • Plumbing: Check drain and supply lines for leaks.
  • Windows and doors: Test that they open and close easily. Check that flashings are not loose, and look for any evidence of leaks. Clean window wells.
  • Yards: Look for and eliminate safety hazards such as damaged pool fences. Inspect for pests that may have made their winter headquarters in your yard or crawlspace of your house. Now is also the time to assess landscaping improvements; rake winter debris and aerate the lawn; start seedlings indoors so they will be ready to put in the ground after the danger of frost is gone.

Don't forget about spring cleaning, too. Wipe down the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator inside and out; throw out expired foods. Thoroughly purge your closets and drawers of any items you have not used during the past year, and reorganize what's left. Consider the need for new or additional storage solutions.

Freshen up your home by having carpets cleaned and sanitized or even by installing new flooring. Add a coat of paint to accent a wall in a lively spring color -- blues, especially aquamarine and turquoise, as well as minty greens and tangerine continue to be popular, and all nicely complement Pantone's color of the year, Marsala. If you like keeping your walls and floors neutral, swap out heavier winter window fashions, bedding, and throw pillows for those in a lighter, spring/summer palette. Hit the flea markets and garage sales, and let your creativity loose by purchasing a piece of furniture you can paint and repurpose for useful storage or as an accent, either in the house or the yard.

Top home improvement projects for spring

You'll want to get all of your bigger renovations done before spring is over so you can kick back and enjoy your home when the temperature soars. You really don't want to labor in the heat or have your house overrun by sweaty workers all summer. If you plan to do renovations on your kitchen, you don't want it offline when the kids are on school break.

Choose from these top home improvements to make your home more functional or more beautiful, and you can enjoy a healthy return on investment, too, according to the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com):

  • Wood deck. A modest wood deck can return more than 80 percent of your investment, compared to 68 percent for a similar deck constructed of composite materials. Finish it this spring, and enjoy it all summer.
  • Steel entry door. A new front door returns more than 100 percent of your investment.
  • New garage door. A garage door for under $1,600 can provide more than 88 percent ROI. Coordinate it with a new steel entry door to max out on your home's curb appeal.
  • Minor kitchen remodel. Remodeling Magazine's research concluded that by doing a less ambitious kitchen makeover, you can recoup more of your investment. An investment of under $20,000 returns 79.3 percent ROI, compared to a $57,000 major kitchen remodel, which pays back less than 68 percent. Improved kitchen functionality is priceless, however, for your entire household.

Need a push to start your spring home renewal projects? Just remember: Spring renovations bring summer vacations.

Photo credit to Kevin Irby

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.