Depending on where you live and the local climate, the summer months can be an ideal time to do home renovations, especially if outdoor work is involved. (Make sure you know what your real estate investment is worth before you sign the ownership papers. See Valuing A Real Estate Investment Property.)

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There are several reasons to consider summer renovations:

  • Contractors often are more willing to work during the summer
  • Greater availability of less-expensive labor
  • You may be able to negotiate a better deal
  • Many other people won't schedule renovations while kids are out of school
  • Many others won't schedule renovations due to conflicts with vacations and family trips
  • Many others schedule renovations in the fall to beat the winter weather and holidays.

Here are ideas for projects that can be completed more efficiently in the summer and may save you time and money along the way:

Driveway Paving
If you have an asphalt driveway that's loaded with patches of grass growing through the cracks, summer is the best season to have it redone. The main reason is that asphalt is much easier to work with in higher temperatures, so you can avoid problems and additional costs by doing it right the first time.

Creating a smooth asphalt surface requires time and high temperatures to prevent the material from prematurely hardening. The lower the temperature dips, the less time the contractor will have to evenly spread the asphalt to form a level surface. Otherwise, you may be left with an irregular surface with bumps and valleys.

If you plan to gut your kitchen and do a complete remodel, you may be faced with eating in restaurants until the work is finished. Since that can get expensive, another alternative is to cook outdoors. If you have a grill and burner, you've already got what you need to cook a majority of your meals.

Move your refrigerator to another room or into the garage. Use paper or plastic plates and utensils if you don't have access to your kitchen sink or dishwasher. If you've ever considered adding an outdoor kitchen, this would be the time to do it. It will add to your enjoyment of the outdoors once your inside kitchen is completed.

Prepare for your kitchen remodel early in the year, after the holidays. Once you have a plan, purchase the materials that you will need. Many retailers conduct some of their best sales in January and February to clear out their unsold Christmas inventories. It's a good time to buy appliances, tile, fixtures, lighting and new cabinetry. If any of your items require special ordering, this will ensure that everything arrives in time for the work to begin on schedule. You'll also get more attention from design consultants who can help you put your kitchen layout together.

Home Addition
Adding a room or an upper floor will require you to open up your home to the elements. Doing this during the summer will likely minimize the exposure and allow the work to be completed more quickly. It will also probably save you money in the process.

Finish the design work and find a contractor several months before the work will start. You don't want to be held up because materials aren't available or the permit process hasn't been completed.

The summer months are also a good time to upgrade your landscaping and home exterior. If you're thinking about saving time and money maintaining your yard, consider a landscape design that incorporates native plants that don't require much water or fertilizer. It's also a good time to install an automatic sprinkler system that is timed to turn on and off at the best times of day.

Start in the spring by creating a design and selecting the types of plants, shrubs and trees you want to include. Incorporate a wide variety of flora that will enhance the look and texture of your landscape. If you enjoy wildlife, consider plants that attract the types of birds and other animals that you'd like to see. You might add some solar-powered lights to accentuate walkways and decks.

You can also save money and add color and diversity by planting your own garden. Initially, you may incur some cost to create the right soil conditions, but the long-term payoff is enjoying your own fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.

In-Ground Pool and Deck
If you live in a climate where the ground freezes, you have to wait for the thaw before you can do any serious digging in your yard. Start this project during spring and finish it in time to enjoy for most of the summer.

Warmer temperatures are also needed for properly installing and curing the materials used to construct the pool. These include gunite, plaster, cement and certain polymer compounds.

One way to save on a pool is to find one or more neighbors who want to install a pool similar to yours. Since pools are constructed in stages, it's more efficient and less costly to a contractor to simultaneously build more than one. The savings could be applied to installing a new deck area around the pool. Beyond the enjoyment value, it will add to your home's resale potential.

The Bottom Line
Planning can go a long way in helping to save money on home renovations. A firm plan avoids the cost of changes and increases the chances of finishing on schedule. It also gives you the time to research the best deals on materials that will be needed. Perhaps most importantly, you will be able to interview and select the right contractor for your job.

Summer is a good time to get things done outside, when your neighbors are on vacation and some contractors may be looking for work. Accomplish common maintenance items such as caulking windows, applying weather stripping, cleaning gutters, washing windows, repairing fences, treating wooden decks, painting the exterior or adding siding. Do your homework and get multiple estimates before you commit to anything. (For further reading, check out 4 Key Factors That Drive The Real Estate Market.)

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