David Fischer—Getty Images
By Kerry Close
December 3, 2016

Remodeling spending is surging: It’s expected to jump by 8.3% in the second quarter of 2017, up from 5.7% growth in the same period in 2016, according to an October survey from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. That’s partly because of buyers purchasing houses that need a little work, but also because of a projected increase in discretionary income, says Abbe Will, an economist at Harvard.

Plan ahead.

When remodeling surges, contractors get harder to find. Even if you’re just mulling over a project, start talking to pros in your area early to understand prospective costs and timelines. Will also recommends planning projects for the winter months—December, January, and February—when demand ebbs slightly. That means you should make a move ASAP.

Pick your projects.

Prioritize work that gives the best payoff, Will suggests. A minor kitchen remodel, for instance, would earn back an estimated 83% of what you spend at resale, according to a Remodeling magazine analysis, compared with just 65% for a major reno. To get the most bang for your buck, Will says, seek projects that boost curb appeal. Garage and entry door replacements, for example, were near the top of Remodeling’s list.

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