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This year, instead of making resolutions you can't keep, resolve to finish things that you planned to do last year, and prioritize the projects that need to be done promptly so they don't lead to more problems and added costs if you wait. And the winter is a great time to take care of some indoor projects that you didn't finish last year and to plan other projects for the spring and summer where you need to get a head start. That way, you will be able to look back at this time next year and brag about all the home improvement resolutions you kept.
So before making your home improvement resolution list for 2012, look back at what you didn't accomplish in 2011 and heed my mantra that "proper prior planning prevents poor projects" to ensure you keep your resolutions this year.
"Too often, people overestimate their ability to complete a project in a timely manner, and they also often underestimate the cost of materials," says Keith Paul, founder of HandyPro Handyman Services in Plymouth, (800) 942-6394, www.handypro.com. "As a result, we get a lot of calls to help people finish their projects when they realize it may never get done."
Gary Kearns of Kearns Brothers, (888) 355-6700, www.kearnsbrothers.com, agrees that planning is the key, but he sees a lot of homeowners who fall prey to paralysis by analysis and never even get a project started as a result.
"Today, there is so much available on the Internet that people get overwhelmed with information and have a hard time determining which information is truthful and which isn't," Kearns says.
Kearns says part of that indecision is also because today's homeowners are much savvier about spending money and are generally better shoppers when it comes to home improvements.
"People have a fear of making a mistake when they embark on a project because they don't want waste money or look foolish if it doesn't turn out the way they wanted," he says.
Reality is also a key when making home improvement resolutions, so sometimes you have to adjust your project list to compensate for other things in your life that need funding, such as a new car, college education costs or the family vacation you haven't taken in five years. So before you make your to-do list for 2012, first analyze your home's needs and your capabilities to both fund and manage a project. And even if you can't renovate the kitchen or bath, it doesn't mean you can't make some improvements that won't break the bank.
"We are seeing a lot of people who are buying our cabinet or countertop paints to spruce up their kitchen instead of spending the money to get new ones," says Brian Eisbrenner of Shelby Paint and Decorating, (586) 739-0240, www.shelbypaint.com. "Plus, painting cabinets is usually a DIY project, so it can save the cost of labor, as well."
Sprucing up a kitchen or bath or getting new carpeting may be more feasible than a major renovation, but you also need to consider things you didn't get done last year that may need immediate attention before they end up becoming bigger problems.
"While many homeowners make resolutions to do larger renovations, we are getting a lot of calls from people who have let things go in their house, and now they need them repaired before they can even think about doing the bigger items," HandyPro's Paul says.
When New Year's resolutions run rampant, many of the ones that people make are never fulfilled. Many of us have good intentions when we plan projects for the new year, but reality often gets in the way. Even if you run short of either time or money, investing in a well thought out plan is always the best use of both.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his "Handyman Show" on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. "The Handyman Show" can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
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