Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Prioritizing New Projects Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Prioritizing New Projects
woman starring at a model home

Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer: Prioritizing New Projects

So far in this series, I’ve gone through some of the expenses that come with buying and owning a home. However, in addition to some required costs, homeowners may also face self-imposed spending in the form of projects. Obviously, these can range in size and price based on the condition of your home when you bought the place.

In our case, when we decided to buy, we knew there’d be things we wanted to update along the way but found that the most important things were taken care of, making it a “turn-key” option for us. Now that we’ve been here for a couple of months, we’re starting to see a few things we’d like to take care of. Needless to say, since our budget is limited, we don’t have the ability to just snap our fingers and make changes. Instead, we’re needing to prioritize.

By considering such factors as timing, feasibility, practicality, and, of course, cost, we’ve begun sketching out which projects we want to tackle now and which we’d like to pursue down the road. Even then, there are a few question marks in our plans as we have yet to get quotes for these services. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at four home improvement projects that have risen to the top of our to-list so far.

4 Home Improvement Projects We’re Currently Considering

a couple looking out of open windows

Replacing our windows

Something I loved about our previous apartment was the windows. That may sound weird to say, but I don’t think many people appreciate just how much a good window can change your life. Not only can upgraded windows help with temperature control and efficiency (which, in turn, saves you money on utilities) but they can also reduce noise pollution.

Unfortunately for us, the windows on our new home aren’t quite as impressive as those in our apartment. And while I’m not sure how old these windows are, they do seem pretty dated. Because of this, I’m personally excited to explore the possibility of updating them. Plus, we’re in need of a new sliding glass door, so that could be bundled into this particular project.

How much will this cost? I honestly have no idea  — but I’m guessing it won’t be cheap. One thing we have going for us, though, is the fact that our house only has a total of five windows (including a small one in the kitchen).

Although it’s hard to say for sure, I’d reckon that this will be the first project we tackle, assuming that the estimates we get aren’t too eye-watering.

Upgrading our gutters

Even though I haven’t owned a home until now, I’ve certainly seen plenty of home products advertised over the years. Among them are various rain gutters that feature a cover meant to keep leaves out. These always struck me as a good idea as I am personally not too excited about climbing a ladder and clearing the gutters myself.

Now that we do own a home and have already seen just how many leaves our landscaping can shed, perhaps it’s time to invest in some of those fancy gutters. There are a couple of problems, however. For one, since our house is attached to another, mismatching gutters may look weird at best and may not be possible at worst. Second, I get the impression that these gutters are pretty expensive. To me, when a company is offering you a $200 gift card just for getting a quote, that probably means that the product they are selling costs quite a bit.

Once again, since the exterior of our home isn’t that large, maybe it won’t be as pricey as I fear. Either way, I think we’ll end up holding off on this one for a bit and making do in the meantime.

a large tree trunk

Pruning our gigantic tree

Our backyard is home to a massive tree. On the one hand, this provides us with some awesome shade. But, on the other hand, the thought of what could happen to said tree in a storm worries me.

I’m pretty sure it would take quite a bit for the main part of the tree to tumble, but there are several offshoots that might not be as stable. Then again, I don’t really know a whole heck of a lot about trees. Thus, we’re wondering if we should have a professional come out to take a look at it and see if any maintenance might be needed.

Once again, I have no idea of the cost for this — especially since we don’t even know if servicing will be needed. However, with spring just around the corner, we may want to find that out sooner rather than later.

Turning our basement into a guest room

The last task on our list is a bit different in that it’s not so much a project as it is a purchase. See, when we bought the house, our plan was to put our sleeper sofa in the basement so it could be a guest room. To our frustration, however, it turns out that said sofa is too large to make it to the basement (getting it down requires it to be stood straight up at one point and there’s not enough clearance). That’s thrown a major wrench in our plans as it means we’ll need some other sleep solution for our potential guests.

In many ways, this is the easiest project on our list as it’s the one we can mostly do ourselves without professional help. At the same time, the fact that we even need to go shopping for more furniture is incredibly annoying, leading us to put this off. Having said that, as we continue to set up our new home the way we want, I do think we’ll find a solution soon enough. If I had to guess, our finished basement will be guest-ready by the summer — but, we’ll see about that.

Looking at our list of potential projects, I feel as though each is fairly practical and includes some key benefits. In the case of the windows, the potential efficiency could lead to lower energy bills as well as less noise. Meanwhile, the gutters and tree maintenance will hopefully mean less mess and potential disaster avoidance. And having a proper guest space will mean we can finally host friends and family in a way we couldn’t as apartment dwellers. The only question is how much these projects will cost.

While I don’t have that answer now, I’ll be sure to keep you updated in future installments of my Lessons From a First-Time Home Buyer series.


Kyle Burbank

Head Writer ~ Fioney
Kyle is the head writer for Fioney. He is a personal finance nerd, constantly looking for new apps and services to test and incorporate into his own financial game plan. In addition to his role at Fioney, he's written for other publications including Born2Invest, Lifehack, and Laughing Place, as well as his own site Money@30. He also creates personal finance and travel-related videos for Money@30's YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 2 million views. Currently, Kyle resides in Springfield, Missouri with his wife of 10 years. Together, they enjoy traveling (including visiting Disney Parks around the world), dining, and playing with their dog Rigby.

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