Tips On Making Home Improvements in Rural Environments

Tips On Making Home Improvements in Rural Environments
  • Opening Intro -

    When you live out in the country, making home improvements can be a little more challenging than your typical suburban remodel.

    But you probably didn't choose the rural life because it would always be the easiest thing to do.


You chose it because it was the life for you — and creating the home you’ve always wanted can be a big part of that. If you’re a rural homeowner who’s planning an upcoming remodel, take these tips into account. They can help you save money, find opportunities and stay safe (and sane) as you plan and execute your renovations.

Make a plan and keep clear priorities and goals in mind

Renovations have a way of encouraging what military circles call “mission creep”—the gradual process of losing focus on your original goals and getting entangled in additional struggles that crop up along the way.

Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable—like when you discover long-festering problems once you start taking your house apart—but it’s important to keep everything in perspective, especially since rural remodels often incur a lot of extra time and expenses already.

Use your ultimate goals to guide you as you make decisions about your remodel. Whether your goal is to get your house in selling condition, to refit your home for aging in place or to solve structural issues, all of the choices you make should be working toward that end.

Create a schedule for regular check-ins with your contractors so you can stay informed on progress toward goals and on important decision points.

Prioritize long-term solutions

Since rural renovations are often more challenging, you probably want to look toward solutions you won’t have to revisit in a few years. This should be a factor in building material choices, design decisions, and even contractor selection. Going cheaper can save you money in the short term, but rural environments can be harder on a building than suburban ones, and you’re better off putting your money into more lasting solutions.

If you’re not familiar with the unique challenges of building and renovating for rural conditions, it’s especially important to find a contractor who knows these areas and can advise you on the best moves to make.

Talk to your neighbors about how to minimize the impact on them

Many people move to the country because they want peace and quiet, and a home renovation down the road can be a rude awakening for neighbors who are suddenly listening to construction sounds every morning. Before you begin a remodel project, get together with your neighbors and discuss strategies for managing noise, waste and other necessary evils of remodeling.

Minimize subcontractor work where you can

When you’re choosing a contractor for your rural remodel, it’s usually better to go with one who uses fewer subcontractors.

Rural remodels are already a logistics challenge, and the more different contractors involved, the higher the chance that somebody won’t show up, a miscommunication will happen or things will otherwise go wrong.

Using a contractor who does as much in-house work as possible helps reduce these risks.

Rural remodeling offers some great opportunities for greener building

Remodeling can be a great time to look at green building options for your rural property. Following basic remodeling best practices like choosing Energy Star-rated appliances and energy-efficient windows is key.

It’s also worth investigating options that you might not have in the suburbs, such as adding passive solar features or rooftop solar panels.

And whatever features you choose, it’s a good idea to consult your local environmental authorities (like a soil and water conservation department) to make sure your renovations are in line with eco-friendly principles.

Look for opportunities to use natural light

Using natural light in your house has a lot of great benefits. Letting in more of that great country sunlight will make your house more attractive to potential buyers, and it has upsides for you, too—it can reduce your energy bills, help you sleep better and may even be able to fight seasonal depression. One great tip to make natural light go farther? Add mirrors to your decor that reflect natural light into areas that it has a hard time reaching.

Consider carefully whether your additions are truly adding value

That pool or three-car garage may seem like a good addition now—but consider whether it will be a plus or a minus for a prospective buyer even if you don’t have any current plans to sell your home. This is even more of a concern in rural areas, where selling a home may already be tougher. Throw in the added expenses of maintaining home features like a pool, and your house might be sitting on the market for quite some time should you need to sell it.

On the flip side, some improvements, such as an updated kitchen, tend to be good sellers for any home. Things that use your proximity to nature are even better, like creating or improving outdoor recreation areas such as patios and gardens. Ultimately, it’s your house—but think carefully about how some features attract buyers more easily than others.


Make sure you’ve got safety equipment squared away

If you plan on doing any work on your home yourself, make sure you’ve got the gear to protect yourself. A pair of durable work gloves is essential to keep your hands protected from cuts and scrapes, and a pair of lightweight work boots with an ASTM safety toe is equally important. Round out the package with some durable safety goggles, and even a hard hat if necessary.

If you and your family are planning on living in the house during the remodel, take extra precautions to keep children and pets out of the construction area. Similarly, keep tools put away, cover up exposed outlets until they’re finished and clean up construction waste quickly.

Rural remodels can certainly be tough, and you probably won’t get out without some sacrifices, but smart planning, communication and an open mind can go a long way to helping you make the country home you love. Look closely, and you may just find unique opportunities that open themselves up along with the challenges.

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