The weather is finally turning cooler in our neck of the woods! I’ve been reacquainting myself with my slow-cookers and my cooler-weather attire. And dreaming of what we can do on the house between now and next spring.

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably have several running lists of home projects:

  • There’s the things you know you should do seasonally or yearly (get your furnace serviced, tend to the flower gardens, do a thorough deep-clean).
  • There’s the “someday if we win the lottery” home improvements (make your one-story home into two stories, perhaps).
  • And then there are the many smaller things in-between: replace the carpet, replace our living room set, spruce up the guest room, put in that new light fixture, etc.

While you’re thinking about getting your home ready for holiday entertaining, it might be a good idea to also think about what’s on the schedule for your home once the new year arrives. Whether it’s that brick-paver patio that’s long overdue for some shoring up, the raised bed you want to build for another garden plot, or that room that’s overdue for upgrade, the cooler months can often be the best time to get these things done.

Or at least to plan them out and do the research.

Why you should jump-start home projects during the off-season:

  • Having a goal like a major home improvement can help keep you from overspending on holiday purchases and all those tempting sales.
  • For many of us who live in warmer climes, summers are too hot (or becoming too hot) for outdoor home-improvement projects to happen.  Especially if you plan to DIY some or all of the work; heatstroke is neither fun nor worth it. (Plus, sometimes it’s just too hot for your materials to function as they’re supposed to!)
  • And doing projects in the winter months means you may be able to take advantage of slow-season price cuts on labor, wintertime sales on supplies, etc. For example, painters near us often run specials just after new year’s for as much as 25% off!

With that in mind, here are some of the off-season home projects you might consider planning as we head toward the end of this year and the start of next:

 

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

 

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Jump-start these home projects this winter:

1. Long-overdue minor interior upgrades

Such as

  • freshening your kitchen with new cabinet hardware (which is LOADS cheaper than a total rebuild)
  • upgrading your lighting, and/or adding ceiling fans to your sleeping spaces
  • taking care of those small repairs (leaky faucets and toilets, for example) you’ve been putting off
  • repainting a bathroom or other small space

Especially if you DIY any of these, you may well get extra time off during the winter that you don’t at other parts of the year. For example, my husband (who teaches) usually has 3-4 weeks off from teaching between fall and spring semesters. This makes winter break the ideal time for all those “little things” he just can’t get to when classes are in session.

2. Building a retaining wall

If you’re shorter on money than on time, it’s really not that hard to build a stone retaining wall for hundreds instead of hiring someone else to do it for thousands. You just need a little patience, because (unless you’ve got a week’s vacation time to devote to it), it will take you several shorter sessions over a longer period of time to get the job done right.

Why would you WANT to rebuild a retaining wall for yourself? Well, because you just bought a house (meaning you’re cash-poor) and the retaining wall at the backyard garden looks like this:

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

We used to call this Back Weed Hill and Leaning Tower of Retaining Wall.

Except that this picture includes spring weeds, this was what the backyard wall of our new house looked like when we closed on it mid-winter a decade ago, when I was eight months pregnant with Kimmie and on modified bed rest. Having spent every spare penny we could on replacing carpet with hardwood floors because of my allergies, we weren’t up to hiring pros to rebuild the wall. But we were afraid it would fall over if someone didn’t rebuild it ASAP!

And besides, I wanted to replace the weed-patch with a pretty backyard garden.

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

This is the “after” picture post-planting , the year after I replaced Leaning Wall with a proper stone one.

Fortunately, our local garden store has a landscape architect on staff, who’s available for free consultations on things like this. She assured me that building a retaining wall really WASN’T that hard. And she was right.

By the spring of the year when Kimmie was one, I started to chip away at the process of replacing Weed Hill and Leaning Tower with a proper wall and garden. Given that I had a toddler, it was a gradual process that unfolded one Saturday at a time. But as I soon learned, it was SO much easier to work on in the fall months and early spring, when the weather was cooler!

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

My beautiful finished wall

3. Redoing stone patios and walkways

That’s why last weekend, the girls and I started ripping up the brick patio that adjoins this retaining wall.

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

Bye-bye old uneven brick patio!

It has needed leveling with more crushed-stone fill underneath for years. And doing it on a pleasant fall weekend was SO much better than working in the heat of summer!

And thanks to the retaining wall work I did nearly a decade ago, I have a better sense of what’s involved in (re)building a brick patio.

Just keep in mind that if you’re planning instead to do a concrete/cement patio slab, you’ll probably need to aim for spring or fall vs. actual winter. The workers will need access to running water for their mixing, and the product won’t set properly if it’s too cold out.

4. Planning out next year’s gardens

Thinking about planting a garden next summer? Or expanding your current garden space?

If you want to be ready to plant veggies in the spring, you need to clear that land (e.g., getting that ugly bush removed) and figure out your bed space NOW.

If you want to build some raised beds, you’ll want to have them done well before planting-time. Meaning now is the time to do your research and figure out how you want to do them.

The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

The first two raised vegetable beds Dear Husband built at our new house, our first spring in residence.

On the other hand, maybe you’re thinking of building a decorative fish pond instead. This, too, you can plan out now, and do any actual digging and building during the cooler early spring months. You can buy everything  you’ll need from your local garden center – although some accessories, such as the Tsurumi VANCS pump, you can also get online.

What (if any) home improvement projects do you hope to accomplish between now and next summer? Let us know in the comments!

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The off-season months of fall, spring, and even winter are ideal times to jump start home projects. Here, some ideas to get you started.

 

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