How to Prevent the Plight of Project Postponement

How to Prevent the Plight of Project Postponement


It’s been said that procrastination is the thief of time. If that’s true, plenty of homeowners are getting robbed blind — and it’s their own fault.

Consider that 32 percent of homeowners polled delayed at least one home improvement project for 12 months or longer, per the results of a recent study by Other key findings: nine DIY projects are waiting to be completed in the typical home, 57 percent of owners believe their home remains a “work in progress,” and only one in 10 feel like they’re totally on top of their home upkeep tasks.

A separate report by Discover Personal Loans corroborates this project postponement angst; nearly three out of four homeowners surveyed put off making repairs or upgrades to their abodes due to a financial challenge, with 42 percent shelving the job for more than a year.

What’s behind this dawdling and deferring? Plenty, say the pros.

“Perhaps they feel overwhelmed about the amount or type of work that needs to get done, or they don’t know where to start,” says Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of Seattle-based Porch, Inc. “Also, it can be challenging to find the right person for the job.”

Those aren’t the only common excuses.

“Many procrastinate because they lack the extra time it takes to plan and execute a home improvement, plus they dread the inconvenience they will experience during the process. They could also lack confidence or have a fear of making the wrong choices. Others may worry that they won’t get a good return on their investment,” says Jill Hosking-Cartland, principal designer with Hosking Interiors of Windham, New Hampshire.

Regardless of the reason, the repercussions of tabling a repair or upgrade can be significant.

“Delaying home improvement projects increases costs. Rotting deck boards won’t improve on their own, nor will any other materials, components or systems in your home that need attention,” says Dave Dombroski, co-founder of Sidekick, a home improvement concierge service based in Hingham, Massachusetts.

More importantly, “there could be a safety issue in play — like a loose railing that could result in a fall and injury,” Ehrlichman adds.

In addition, delaying could compound your stress and cost when it comes time to sell your home.

“Waiting to do the work until just before you sell can be emotionally draining,” says Hosking-Cartland, who adds that remodeled kitchens and baths as well as home additions are the jobs most often rain checked by her clients. These and other projects that involve family upheaval and inconvenience — especially due to lack of space, furniture being moved, and inaccessibility to favorite areas or amenities — are particularly problematic, experts agree.

To prevent such dithering and ensure completion of a desired project in a timely manner, it’s wise to devise a plan.

“Many homeowners become overwhelmed or discouraged when a project appears too complicated. Research a project or repair in advance using trusted resources,” says Chris Zeisler, master technician with in Canton, Michigan. “And have realistic expectations before you start the project.”

Shop around and get several quotes from trusted professionals, too.

“Gather opinions and cost estimates from different contractors, interior designers and anyone else who will be needed,” Hosking-Cartland suggests. “Be sure the expert you hire comes highly recommended and has excellent communication skills.”

Dombroski concurs.

“It’s helpful to find an expert who can guide you toward a healthy balance — someone who can both fix critical problems or overdue improvements around your home, as well as supervise creative projects you’re excited about, like new countertops or a fire pit,” he says. “You need a trusted advisor to help guide you through it all.”

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