Angie's List: Don't be surprised by emergency home repairs this year

Get your house in order for 2014

TAMPA - Angie's List is calling on homeowners like you to take the Angie's List Pledge to get their houses in order in 2014. Because that's much easier said than done, Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, is providing free and useful tools to help homeowners keep their pledge. The pledge and its information are free and available to all consumers – not just Angie's List members.

"I know I'm not alone," Hicks said. "I don't like to be surprised and I'm sure many of you don't either. That's why I'm asking people to take the Angie's List Pledge because it will allow you to access what needs to be done around your house, which is going to save you money in the long run and hopefully avoid an unexpected expense partway through the year."

So far, the most popular projects planned include basement, bathroom and kitchen updates, along with painting and carpet cleaning or replacement. Many homeowners put off projects because they simply don't know where to start and they worry about lack of time and money. But making a list of what's important to you can get you on the right track. Write down everything that needs to be fixed, needs updated, and even add the things from your wish list then prioritize your items so you're not surprised.

"My goal is not to add more work to everyone's schedule. The key here is to do an assessment. Walk around your house like you are getting ready to buy the house and make a list of the things that need to be fixed. You should be able to do this in an hour or two, but it will save you a lot of time, headache and money down the road," said Hicks.

The Angie's List Pledge is easy. Step one is taking the pledge to commit two hours to inspecting your home and identifying its problem areas. Step two is putting together a list of what projects to tackle first. If you don't know where to start, Angie's List offers a downloadable pledge checklist.

Here are 3 guidelines to get you started:

  • Planning: Walk around your house and observe the shape of your house inside and out. Take a look at your home as if you were buying it.
  • Budgeting: Consider how much available you have to spend and start with projects that you can afford. Make sure the money you spend will add value to your home.
  • Executing: Timing is key in projects. Make sure you factor in what season you'll be doing the work or what time of year may be the best time to get on a contractor's schedule if you're hiring out the project.

Once you have your list of projects in hand, consider these 10 factors:

  1. Start Small: Tackle the smaller jobs first because you'll more likely finish the project.
  2. Wants vs. needs: Make a list of projects that "need" to get done. Finish those first, then move on to your "wants".
  3. Safety concerns: Handle any projects that could affect your family's safety. Do you have water damage or faulty plumbing? Leaking water should be a priority because it could cause structural problems down the road. Also, check to make sure your smoke alarms are working and childproof your home.
  4. Upgrades: Perform projects that reduce energy and water consumption. This will save you money in the long run.
  5. Small tasks, big rewards: Make easy, low-cost improvements that can offer significant results such as painting a room, or changing a light fixture.
  6. Tedious Jobs: Polish off repairs that have been a nuisance, or that you have been putting off such as that squeaky floor and leaky faucet.
  7. Pest Control: Check for the insect kind or the small furry ones. Sealing your home and lawn against pests in an important home maintenance item.
  8. Cosmetic: Fix that hole in the wall, repair molding, or add a splash of color to your walls.
  9. Curb Appeal: Improvements to the home's exterior will make it more inviting. Get a new front door or spruce up the landscaping.
  10. Stay positive: Don't get discouraged. Just remember not to get too overwhelmed or you'll never see the project through. At the end of the year, you'll have a lot to look back on.
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