Living Smart: New year to resolve home issues

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

The holidays are done ó you survived, congratulations. Now itís time to focus on you. Some may call it a "resolution," but that term can be intimidating. Instead, letís call it a to-do list of tweaks that can help improve our lives ó whether itís today, tomorrow, or twenty-two Tuesdays from now.

So feel free to pick a few items and knock íem out of the park, or go gung-ho and take on the entire list. Either way, weíve got your back. And, as always, you can find highly rated providers on Angieís List who are waiting in the wings to help you with any project along the way.

1. Organize your house

You donít need a Type A personality to recognize the importance of keeping your home organized. But knowing and doing are two different things. "Start small," says Jennifer Finch, owner of highly rated (on Angieís List of top companies) Ultimately Organized in California, Ky. "Pick out one room in your home that makes you the most anxious. Focus on one corner of that room first. Once thatís done, move on to the next. Donít get inundated by the enormity of the project."

After you set your goals, be sure to schedule enough time to accomplish them, says Katherine Trezise, owner of highly rated Absolutely Organized in Cockeysville, Md. "If you have trouble making decisions about what to do with your things, you may find yourself looking at the same items over and over and mixing trash with treasures," she says. "Having a supportive person with you gives you a sounding board for decision-making and keeps you motivated to stick with the project."

2. Plan your dream remodel

Are you champing at the bit to finish your basement or build that new family room? A few things to consider: Whatever your budget may be, youíll most likely exceed it. Meet with an architect, structural engineer or interior designer to determine the scope of your plan and develop a realistic budget and timeline. Revisit your financial plan to make sure you have the funds to see the project through to completion. Financing a remodel is also an option, but depending on your current financial situation, it may or may not make sense to do so.

3. Pick a color, paint a room

A little paint goes a long way, doesnít cost a lot of money and can give your house some pizazz. If you donít want to make a total color commitment, select one wall as an accent wall to display your favorite hue. If youíre unsure how to get started, you can always select a color based on your personality (really!), or one that will complement what you already have displayed in the room. Grab some smaller, sample-sized cans of paint for a trial run and see what excites you.

4. Give your house a checkup

Just like your body, your house needs a once-over at least once a year. Look for obvious signs of damage or distress, but take note of the little things that might lead to bigger issues down the road. "In general, a homeownerís worst enemy is moisture," says Alan Chase, owner of highly rated Chase Home Inspections in Knoxville, Tn. "Outside, all roof shingles should be examined periodically for any signs of loose, damaged or missing shingles that could produce a leak. All siding should be examined for signs of moisture intrusion that will develop into rot. All gutters and downspouts should be examined to assure adequate roof drainage away from the foundation. All surface cracks on driveways, sidewalks and patios should remain well-sealed to eliminate moisture."