Don't fall into the trap of neglecting home repairs and home improvements just because the real estate market is down. If you are selling, prospective buyers will be extra-critical and choose homes that are well-maintained and cared for. And in downtimes, attractive extras like sunrooms, decks, or pergolas are even more important when buyers have a large selection of homes to pick from.
Repainting a home is a great way to improve its appearance and give it what real estate agents call "curb appeal." Exterior painting isn't difficult and many homeowners do it themselves, but it can be a big and messy job. A good contractor can make things a lot easier by suggesting the proper paint for your home, showing various combinations of colors and carefully selected accent colors, preparing the exterior, and then do the painting quickly and competently. Expert preparation includes power-washing and may include repairing wood, Masonite or Hardie plank siding and trim. This will guard against paint blistering, peeling or flaking later.
Windows are another area of the home that's often neglected. Most homes today have dual pane windows for extra insulation and sound proofing. Unfortunately, the seals on older dual pane windows are often leaky, resulting in condensation and residue between the panes. Leaking seals defeat the purpose of dual pane windows, and the glass becomes dull and ugly. Replacement windows quickly fix this problem. I held off doing mine because I feared it was a big, expensive construction job. Then I learned that windows can often be replaced without ripping out the frames, and found a good contractor who did the work. If you think of replacing windows, also inquire about shatterproof, tinted, tempered and colored glass.
If you have a covered patio or any other structure that attaches to your home, be sure to have a contractor check for dry rot, leaks, cracks and other damage. These things are usually easy to fix, but they can really add up to costly damage unless taken care of. Water leaks, especially, can lead to catastrophic damage. Cracks and holes may provide access for pests, so it's better to tend to that quickly.
Taking care of one's home is good business and a good investment. Whether it's creating additional curb appeal with shiny new paint or an inviting covered patio if you intend to sell your home, or simply keeping your property in good condition so that you won't incur needless repair costs later on, proactive home maintenance makes sense. Many homeowners shy away from those tasks due to costs and the challenge of finding a good, reliable contractor. Don't give up - they are out there and you'll be glad once you find a good one.