Sometimes, the very best home improvement ideas come down to timing. And what better time for a refresh than the arrival of fall (Sept. 21, for those keeping track)? In addition to being a great season to go apple picking and admire the foliage, it's also the perfect time of year for making a number of home improvements. Here are some timely projects to tackle this fall.
1. Build a fire pit
Like the idea of being able to hang out and roast marshmallows in your backyard this winter?
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits are among the most popular outdoor design elements.You can even build one yourself.
You'll want to choose a flat, level spot in your yard that you can comfortably circle with seating. If you plan to grill hot dogs and watch the flames dance, a standard 36-inch-wide pit will do fine. For step-by-step instructions, check out this guide.
2. Paint your home’s exterior
If the outside of your home is long overdue for a paint job, fall offers the best weather conditions, says Bruce Irving, a renovation consultant and real estate agent in Cambridge, MA.
“You don’t want to apply paint in the blazing sun, and you don’t want to paint your house in the winter,” Irving explains.
Since this is a huge undertaking, you’ll likely want to hire a professional painter. Prices are based on square footage. Painting an average home between 500 and 1,500 square feet can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, according to HomeAdvisor data, but some materials cost more to paint than others because of their texture. For example, stucco siding costs anywhere from $700 (250 square feet) to $2,000 (1,000 square feet) to paint, compared with between $400 and $1,500 for metal siding.
3. Paint your home's interior, too
Want to give your bathroom, bedroom, living room, or, well, any room in your house a face-lift? Fall is the best time to apply a fresh coat of paint, says Brian Kelsey, a licensed contractor and host of the online video series Kelsey on the House.
The humidity is lower in fall (when the air is humid, it holds too much moisture for the paint to dry properly), but it's still warm enough that you can open your windows to air out the paint fumes. Best of all, this is something you can do yourself without fear.
4. Take care of your roof
“If you need to fix part of your roof or replace it, fall would be the time to do it,” says Irving. Indeed, winter weather—specifically snow and ice buildup—can put extra stress on your roof and even cause it to cave in if there’s pre-existing damage.
You should hire a professional inspector to check the condition of your roof. (According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, roof falls accounted for nearly 1,200 deaths in the construction industry from 2003 to 2013. And those are professionals, guys!) A roof inspection costs on average $218, according to HomeAdvisor, and assesses the level of wear and tear on a roof, how much life it has left it, and whether any repairs are needed.
Installing a new roof can set you back a good chunk of cash—Angie's List members recently reported spending an average of $11,095 to tear off and replace an asphalt roof—but it’s a crucial repair, because it ensures the safety of your family.
5. Insulate the attic
Sick of drafts and high heating bills? They only get worse during the winter, which is why you should insulate your attic in the fall.
On average, hiring a contractor to apply insulation onto the floor of your attic will cost $1,343, but home buyers are willing to pay an average of $1,446 extra for your home if your attic is insulated. This means you get back all that money (and then some) once you sell! If you want to save money, you can go the DIY route, but materials still cost around $580 for a 500-square-foot space.
6. Seal windows and doors
Another way to slash your heating bills is to seal the windows and doors throughout your house. This can cut your energy costs by 10% to 20%, according to Energy.gov. More good news: Finding air leaks and then caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors is easy to do on your own (this guide can help).
7. Install a fireplace
Fireplaces rank high on the most-wanted list for home buyers—40% would pay more for one, a National Association of Realtors® survey found—and installing one can add as much as $12,000 to the value of your home. In addition to the sweet return on investment, you get a place this winter where you can cozy up and warm your feet. Check out this fireplace guide to determine what type of hearth (wood-burning, gas, electric, or gel) is best for you.