Mista Lista: Planning Your ‘Pairs and ‘Provements

A few weeks months ago, Mista Lista shared the KaZoo’s home shopping (house buying, not HSN, fools!) list.  Note: Mista Lista is like the B.A. Baracus of listmaking for home improvement and all things DIY, so feel free to read that last bit with your best Mr. T-as-B.A. impression.  In fact, feel free to read the entire post like that. Just for fun. #80sTVShowsRock #ATeamFan

Now Mista Lista is sharing how the KaZoos plan for home improvement and repairs because he pities the fool who doesn’t plan.

Not surprisingly, it involves lists and pictures (for Amy) and spreadsheet making (for Chris).  Here’s a breakdown of the process:

1.  Conduct your own home inspection.  If you had a home inspection, there might be some things that the home inspector recommends you address fairly soon, such as wood rot or evidence of shoddy roof repairs for a leaking roof.  As for everything else, go room by room (or space by space if you have an open floorplan like the KaZoos), making a list of everything that needs fixing, upgrading, replacing, changing, etc.  The more parties involved, the better, as more pairs of eyes help spot things others don’t notice.

2.  Divide your list into repairs and improvements.  If it needs fixing, removing, and/or replacing due to obvious problems, Mista Lista considers it a repair.  If there is no apparent problem with it (function), other than aesthetic appearance (f0rm), Mista Lista considers it an improvement.

3.  Rank order your repairs and improvements by priorities.  After making a seemingly endless list of repairs and improvements, how do you decide what to do first?  Mista Lista recommends a riff on the Time Management Matrix, made popular by Stephen Covey.  For those not familiar, the time management matrix has four quadrants as follows:

  1. Important and Urgent (emergencies, major projects with a firm deadline)
  2. Important Not Urgent (exercise, family time, setting goals)
  3. Urgent Not Important (time-sensitive interruptions to YOUR time, often thanks to someone else)
  4. Not Urgent Not Important (TV watching, surfing web aimlessly)

Covey recommends you start with items in quadrant 1 and then work through quadrants 2, 3, and 4 to manage your time.  He also recommends spending more time in quadrant 2 to minimize future quadrant 1 items.  For example, exercising regularly and planning healthy meals contributes to overall health, theoretically reducing your risk of illness, disease, and/or some kinds of medical emergencies.  For more information see Covey’s book: First Things First.  

How does this translate into home repair and improvement prioritization?  Mista Lista and the KaZoos use four similar categories for ranking their repairs and improvements.

Quadrant/Phase 1: Important and Urgent aka”Repair Now”

 Phase 1 consists of those repairs that need to get done as soon as you move into a home, such as addressing health and safety issues (e.g., changing the locks to keep out the creepers) and major repairs, depending on the condition of your home at time of sale, especially if you bought your home “as is,” frequently a condition of homes sold by owner or homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures.  Here, the goal is making your habitation inhabitable.

BackDoor

In the KaZoos’ case, a perfect item for this category is the removal of old carpet.  Amy has major allergies, and carpet, especially this loose pile variety, harbors allergens.   As a health issue, we need to tackle this right away, hence the Urgent and Important category.  However, we can address the problem by simply removing the carpet (repair) without us having to upgrade to better flooring right away (improvement). We KaZoos can live on concrete for awhile; a lot of people are intentionally doing concrete floors these day anyway.  #DelayedGratification #ConcreteIsCoolIMG_2642


Quadrant/Phase 2: Important Not Urgent aka “Repair in Near Future”

This is the planning and prevention phase of home improvement.  Yes, there is a phase of home improvement entirely devoted to planning and prevention of future quadrant 1 issues.  This is where you start setting your improvement goals and address minor repairs that aren’t immediately pressing. For the KaZoos, an example of a Phase 2 item would be addressing this magnolia tree that is way too close to the house.  Right now it does not pose an immediate threat, but cutting it down is important to prevent future problems/emergencies, such as major roof damage in hurricane season.

Westyard

 

Focusing on prevention by planning and making simple repairs along the way will likely save you time and money in subsequent phases and circumvent future Important and Urgent situations.  We’ve all seen those home improvement shows where the budget is $50k and during demolition, the renovation team discovers that the electrical and structural aren’t up to code, virtually consuming all of the budget, leaving the homeowners in tears that their beautiful hardwoods, pro grade appliances, and stone countertops are now entirely out of reach (cue violins).  Planning for problems in the budget up front (because they WILL happen–Murphy’s Law, fools) can help alleviate strain and unnecessary drama.

Quadrant/Phase 3: Urgent Not Important aka “Improve in Near Future” 

This is when your repairs should be complete (at least mostly), and you are entering a phase of homeostasis (pun intended), where you are simply trying to maintain your home and its value.  Phase 3 is also where you begin improvements that need to be done sooner than other items to facilitate homeostasis and your enjoyment of your home.  Note, these things may seem Urgent and Important, but improvements really do not count as Important things because you can live without them.  For the KaZoos, a good Phase 3 item is painting, where you get a big visual impact for a relatively small investment.  For us, painting helps our house reflect our identity, which motivates us to maintain it. Depending on your budget, Phase 3 items may be inexpensive upgrades or cosmetic improvements for the short term, whereas Phase 4 items may be that $$$$ whole kitchen renovation you’ve been planning for years.

Quadrant/Phase 4: Not Urgent Not Important aka “Improve in Distant Future”

Phase 4 is when you address things that would be nice to have but are truly cosmetic improvements. These could be things that would be a good longterm investment, but they just aren’t necessary for homeostasis and the happiness of your family at present.

Kitchen2

For example, upgrading the peeling thermofoil builder grade cabinets and scratched laminate countertops to something more durable is definitely in the works for the KaZoos, but since they are functional, there is no need to address these more expensive improvements until later.  This does not mean we will be dropping $50k on custom cabinets and countertops because (a) we aren’t those kind of people (b) we would not get a good return on that kind of investment in our neighborhood.  #FrugalFamilies

4. Organize your prioritized list.  After you’ve ranked your items using the four quadrant matrix, you can create a spreadsheet organizing your list of items by space and phase if you are like the KaZoos, or you can just stick with your reorganized list, depending on what works best for you.

5.  Track changes. Every month, the KaZoos revisit the list/spreadsheet to keep track of what needs to be done and what can be marked off.  It’s a good feeling (and good motivation!) to see the list of repairs shrinking so that we can start to focus on the improvements!

KaZoo Note: Next time, Mista Lista will take you on a tour of the KaZoo’s own To Do/Ta Da List, which will become a regular monthly feature at the end of the month.  You can be the ones who hold us accountable for getting stuff done, although Mista Lista is a tough taskmaster.  (Pity? What pity?!)

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