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Spring cleaning is the springboard for getting ready for summer, and there’s no better time for a little DIY improvement project. The weather is sunny and warm, the days are longer and people have more energy to put into their home. The lines at Home Depot are getting longer and there are high hopes for those summer barbeques. Isn’t it about time to install a backyard pool, too?

However, not all homes are created equal and some houses just shouldn’t have some improvements done–now or ever. The same number of people plan on home improvements this year compared to last (64 percent in 2013 compared to 62 percent in 2011), but only around $3,400 will be spent. Last year, homeowners planned to send $6,200. Why this big change?

Hired Help Goes Down

It looks like homeowners want to save money, since in 2013 only 20 percent plan to hire help, but 47 percent planned to do so last year. According to a study at Harvard University, the amounts of home improvements are plateauing and will likely only increase .2 percent this year–in other words, people have bigger plans than what they’ll actually do. What’s going on with the economy that’s making such big swings?

Consumer confidence is down, not having been this low since last November. At the same time, those pesky summer gas prices are on the rise and are hovering around the four dollar mark. Homeowners should be conservative with their spending, and that’s exactly what they’re doing. Does a new driveway really need to happen this year or a backyard pizza oven? Probably not.

Need vs. Want

Instead, home improvement projects for summer 2013 should be angled more towards needs vs. wants. For example, does an EPDM roof coating need to be applied? Roofs are expensive to replace, so keeping them maintained and even lowering energy bills to boot is a smart move. However, a new outdoor patio set isn’t a necessity and many homeowners are choosing to go without.

Other possibilities include true investment projects that will improve a home’s value. However, this is only important if a person plans to sell in coming years. Curb appeal, or projects on the front of the home, are more valuable than anything happening in the backyard. This might include properly grading soil away from the foundation to avoid flooding or a new garden bed.

No matter how homeowners plan to spend their summer, they seem to be “spending” them more wisely. That’s good news–getting back into savings is smart and it’s been a challenge for many people during and post-recession. Perhaps a movement back to frugal spending, getting those home warranties and DIYing more than relying on hired workers will set the foundation for a healthier financial future.


The author Justin

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