By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a lot involved in owning a home and upkeep is a big part of it.  If you have been ignoring much needed repairs, the beginning of a new year is a great time to look around, take inventory and determine what you need to focus on.  In this week’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan looks at some of the first steps to getting your home in order.

“We decided to redo our kitchen because our house has now gotten to the point where some of the items in it are outdated, but we haven’t out grown it yet so we decided to make it a little bit nicer while we are still here,” said homeowner, Jon Weaver.

There are multiple projects underway at the Weaver home.

“So far we have replaced all the appliances to make them stainless steel we have redone our cabinets and added some crown molding and we have redone the floors,” said Weaver.

For most of us, our homes are one of the biggest investments we’ll make. So we want to take care of it.   That includes doing upgrades and various home improvement projects.  It also means carefully evaluating your home in order to avoid any emergency repairs this year.

“The key here is to do an assessment. Walk around your house like you are getting ready to buy the house and make a list of the things that need to be fixed. You should be able to do this in an hour or two, but it will save you a lot of time, headache and money down the road,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

Handyman, Jeff Flora says an annual review of your home is a good idea.  It’s important to quickly identify any problems around the house and address them as soon as possible.

“It might be a minor thing. It might be a major thing but it’s always a good idea to call somebody that has a little bit of experience because experience matters and they can take a look at it ascertain whether it’s going to be a big problem or a small problem,” said Flora.

More advice from Angie:

Many homeowners put off projects because they simply don’t know where to start and they worry about lack of time and money. But making a list of what’s important to you can get you on the right track. Write down everything that needs to be fixed, needs updated, and even add the things from your wish list then prioritize your items so you’re not surprised.

Here are 3 guidelines to get you started:

•       Planning: Walk around your house and observe the shape of your house inside and out. Take a look at your home as if you were buying it.

•       Budgeting: Consider how much available you have to spend and start with projects that you can afford. Make sure the money you spend will add value to your home.

•       Executing: Timing is key in projects. Make sure you factor in what season you’ll be doing the work or what time of year may be the best time to get on a contractor’s schedule if you’re hiring out the project.

Once you have your list of projects in hand, consider these 10 factors:

1.     Start Small: Tackle the smaller jobs first because you’ll more likely finish the project.

2.     Wants vs. needs: Make a list of projects that “need” to get done. Finish those first, then move on to your “wants”.

3.     Safety concerns: Handle any projects that could affect your family’s safety. Do you have water damage or faulty plumbing? Leaking water should be a priority because it could cause structural problems down the road. Also, check to make sure your smoke alarms are working and childproof your home.

4.     Upgrades: Perform projects that reduce energy and water consumption. This will save you money in the long run.

5.     Small tasks, big rewards: Make easy, low-cost improvements that can offer significant results such as painting a room, or changing a light fixture.

6.     Tedious Jobs: Polish off repairs that have been a nuisance, or that you have been putting off such as that squeaky floor and leaky faucet.

7.     Pest Control: Check for the insect kind or the small furry ones. Sealing your home and lawn against pests in an important home maintenance item.

8.     Cosmetic: Fix that hole in the wall, repair molding, or add a splash of color to your walls.

9.     Curb Appeal: Improvements to the home’s exterior will make it more inviting. Get a new front door or spruce up the landscaping.

10.   Stay positive: Don’t get discouraged. Just remember not to get too overwhelmed or you’ll never see the project through. At the end of the year, you’ll have a lot to look back on.