January 12

Five steps to getting your house in order

Develop a plan to make progress on projects this year.

By Angie Hicks
McClatchy Newspapers

Just because I write about home maintenance, yard work and related topics doesn’t mean I’ve got my own house in pristine order. I’m as human as the next homeowner.

But I’ve developed a plan, ideally suited for this time of year, that can help you and me get going on those projects we’ve neglected in the past year. And I’ve broken it down into five manageable steps:

1. Make a commitment. Pledge that you’ll take action.

2. Objectively review your home. Grab a notebook and pen and take an hour or two to assess each area. Pretend you’re a prospective buyer. Write down anything that needs to be repaired, replaced or checked.

3. Make a plan and follow through. Create a priority list of a reasonable number of projects to undertake in the next year. You might do only one a month or one a quarter. Make sure the pace fits your lifestyle and budget.

4. Safety first. When ranking projects, consider putting first those that involve safety and structural integrity. But don’t overlook a few that will leave you feeling more relaxed and happy, whether it’s decluttering the pantry or planting flowers.

5. Join forces. Share your pledge and plan with friends. Hold each other accountable and decide on incentives.If you could use a little more motivation, I’ve compiled some free resources at www.angies list.com/pledge.

But remember that however you put your pledge into action, the whole point is to give yourself the gift of a year without the trouble and cost of home emergencies that might have been avoided with routine maintenance.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.

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