A new year is all about a series of resolutions for most of us. But we usually do not think about home improvement resolutions, which can change our home — and life — for the better. Here’s a list of resolutions for 2023 that all homeowners (and landlords) should make, and keep!
Create a home inventory: Our closets and cupboards are chock-a-block with ‘stuff’ but chances are we won’t know what all we have and what it’s worth. An unexpected disaster, be it a fire or flood, could result in loss or destruction. Documenting the physical belongings in your home (list and click photos of all your expensive goods and store on cloud) helps you know exactly what you have (and what needs to be donated), and can also help get insurance claims settled faster.
Buy home insurance: Buying home insurance is mandatory. A policy secures you against any damage that be caused by fire, theft, natural calamity, or other unforeseen events. It safeguards your home and its contents, and is a necessity since homes are such huge investments. Apart from homeowners and landlords, tenants can also buy home insurance.
Up your fire safety: Reduce your home’s risk of fire by installing smoke detectors (₹600 upwards) and regularly testing to check that they are working properly. The right fire extinguisher (available ₹300 upwards) should be handy and functional to ensure that small fires don’t turn into big disasters. Chalk out a fire escape plan, identify escape routes, and practise so everyone knows what to do.
Amp up security: A 2019 report stated that a burglary, robbery, or a break-in takes place in India every three minutes. High time to consider the safety our haven provides. Apart from dedicated indoor and outdoor security systems, the market is flooded with devices that let you monitor your home from anywhere. Video doorbells and motion sensors also let you stay safe. Companies like Godrej, CP Plus, Remo, ANNKE, Eoqo, and others offer systems for every budget.
Make an emergency kit: COVID-19 showed us that there may come a time when we need to live differently. With natural disasters on the rise, an emergency kit can be super helpful if your family needs to either shelter in place (may be without utilities) or must evacuate. What should it include? Food and water to last for at least three to four days, medications, chargers, flashlights, first-aid supplies, and a copy of important documents like ID cards and deeds. An emergency fund (ideally three to six months of living expenses) can help navigate the many curveballs life throws.
Map out maintenance: No home is ever complete — it’s always a work in progress that you are caring for and maintaining. Regular organising and maintenance will ensure you never run into big problems. Organise weekly, monthly and half-yearly cleaning schedules to stay on top of mess and clutter. Rope in all family members to help. After all, the family that cleans together stays together!
Draw up meal plans: A well-stocked pantry makes meal planning and preparation easier. You can map out a weekly menu to avoid the ‘what to make’ question. Planning weekly meals is the best way to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and meeting your nutritional needs. It also lets you optimise your pantry, use leftovers, and make grocery shopping more efficient (fewer shopping runs and impulse buys!).
Revisit your mortgage: Not many of us have the means to pay off for a home in one go. But a home loan shouldn’t be forgotten after you take it. Revisit it once every year and check for new offers/ lower rates that you can tap. According to entrepreneur and author Ankur Warikoo one extra EMI per year (so 13 instead of 12) along with an increase in EMI by 10% every year “reduces a 25-year loan to just 10 years”! You also save 60% on your interest amount.
Makeunder your home: Every year brings with it a mountain of items. This makes the end of the year the perfect time to purge so that your home is clear of clutter and looks open and inviting. Go room-by-room, picking up things that you don’t love or use. Be stern and donate all extras — ending the year on a charitable note is a mood-upper. Keep counters and tables clean, group similar items together, and keep only what you enjoy. Makeunder to make over.
Shrink your carbon footprint: You don’t need to install solar panels to give your home a green tag. Small steps can help reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Buy energy-efficient appliances and turn them off when not in use. Use the least amount of water possible (regulate the car and patio washes). Shop locally and eat fewer animal products. Run the washing machine when full and line dry clothes. Eliminate single-use plastic — carry your own shopping bags, water bottles, and cutlery. Try your hand at composting to reduce landfill methane emissions.
Plan one significant upgrade: What’s a new year without a new something? Plan for a large-ticket home improvement project that will up the look and feel of your space. It could be laying a wooden floor, installing that bathtub you always wanted, or painting the home. Looking for something simpler? Interior designer Sonali Desai suggests “painting your front door, redoing a balcony, or replacing a large appliance”.
Let’s make 2023 the year you redo your home and hearth.