The demand for home improvements is heating up and spring is the start of busy season. If you need to do maintenance or upgrades on your home, doing certain work now can save you a bit of cash. Some contractors may still be stuck in the post-holiday lull, which means you are more likely to get off-peak rates. When contractors are less busy, you have more room to negotiate, so if you aren’t offered a discounted rate up front, be sure to ask. Here are some improvements to consider before spring hits:
Air conditioning: Not many people are thinking about cooling their houses right now. If you’ve been meaning to upgrade or add a cooling system to your home, the experts at ShopSmart magazine say these contractors are probably more willing to negotiate now and are offering better deals than they will be as summer approaches.
Basement and roof repairs: You may be able to score savings on bigger contracting jobs when you do them in the winter. Need to do work on the roof? You could get 5 to 25 percent off the total cost by doing it now versus waiting until March or April. Waterproofing, finishing or insulating your basement in the winter can also save you money. Homeowners typically finish these spaces before winter so the basement can serve as an indoor retreat. Contractors get lots of calls in spring and fall when wet weather leads to leaky basements. Call when things are slow, and you’re likely to get a better price.
Gutter cleaning: Most people get their gutters cleaned before or after winter in the fall and spring (experts say you should be cleaning them at least twice a year). Do it now and you can beat the spring cleaning rush. It helps that a relatively mild winter means workers won’t have to battle snow or ice.
Tree pruning: In winter, when trees are dormant and their leaves are gone, these jobs — which are often charged by the hour — should take a lot less time. It should be easier for tree pruners to see which branches need to be removed, say experts at ShopSmart, and when the workers are done with the job, there is less debris for them to haul away.
Window replacement: ShopSmart experts note that today’s window units can be installed any time of the year. They advise doing it in the winter to save money. Just make sure the installer measures the new windows before taking out the old ones and installs the new window immediately after the old one is removed. This way you limit your exposure to the cold weather.