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Beat Cabin Fever With These 7 Home Improvement Projects

Whether you’re feeling cooped up at home, looking to put your home on the market this spring or are freed from a busy work schedule, this could be the perfect time to find therapy in home improvement tasks.

“The COVID-19 crisis is obviously keeping a lot of people close to home, and it’s also creating a fair amount of anxiety,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor, an online home improvement resource. “Taking care of your home while sheltering in place is a good distraction that has the added benefit of helping keep you and your family more safe and secure. Call it peace of mind that passes the time.”

Indoor projects

He says, “Right now, a lot of homeowners are hesitant to bring workers into their home, especially in the hardest hit regions, so a lot of inside projects will be DIY.”

Here are seven projects to keep you busy over the next several weeks.

1. Boost Wi-Fi coverage. Given the surge in telecommuting, many homeowners are looking to set up a home office or work station. A key aspect of this project is making sure you have adequate Wi-Fi coverage in every corner of the home. “The easiest way to do this is by creating a mesh network for your existing internet service by placing extenders, also known as satellites, throughout the home,” explains DiClerico.

2. Create a home gym. Ready to get fit? Assemble a home gym that makes you want to exercise. Peloton-style bikes and other connected exercise equipment should be suitable.

“You don’t need to build a separate addition to house your gym,” says DiClerico. “A finished basement or spare bedroom will do the trick. Just make sure there will be enough clearance around and above the exercise equipment. Clearance requirements vary by machine, but in the case of treadmills, you generally want at least 6.5 feet of free space at the back of the machine and 1.5 feet at either side.”

The need for a blanket of internet coverage will apply to a home gym if you’re planning to install connected equipment. “Otherwise, a weak signal and constant buffering could really slow down your workout,” explained DiClerico. “Lighting and ventilation are also important. If it’s possible, position the workout space near a window where the view of nature and the outdoors will help motivate.”

3. Add a new coat of paint. Painting is always a practical and popular do-it-yourself project because it doesn’t require a lot of specialized tools. DiClerico says, “The project does take longer than most DIYers expect if you want a clean, smooth A+ finish. But time is something a lot of us have plenty of at the moment. Even more involved painting projects, like refinishing cabinets, might be manageable over the coming weeks, and it’s one of the best ways to transform the look and feel of your kitchen.”

4. Install a bidet toilet seat. DiClerico says upgrading a toilet with a bidet is a popular project, given concerns over toilet paper shortages.

“Replacing your existing toilet with a full-on smart toilet, which in addition to the bidet includes features like air drying, automatic flushing and built-in smart speakers, is a professional project, since it involves adding a GFCI outlet within three feet of the toilet,” he says. “But manufacturers also sell bidet seats that work with your existing toilet and don’t require electricity or plumbing modifications.”

Exterior projects

Spending time in the great outdoors can be refreshing and relaxing. DiClerico says, “As we head outside, this is a good opportunity for what we call low-contact home improvement projects, for homeowners who want to minimize contact with the outside world, including home service pros.”

Early spring is an ideal time to roll up your sleeves and focus on essential maintenance repairs since many homes have been battered by harsh winter weather.

5. Inspect gutters, downspouts and roof. “Consider hiring a pro to clean your gutters and inspect the system for signs of rotting or corrosion,” says DiClerico. “They will also be able to do a close-up inspection of the roof, looking for trouble spots, like cracked or missing shingles or issues with the flashing around chimneys and skylights.”

6. Exterior paint projects. “The weather will be warm enough in most parts of the country for house paint to adhere and dry properly,” DiClerico points out. “If it’s been more than 10 years since your house’s last paint job, you’re ready for a fresh coat. Otherwise, paying a pro to add a fresh pop of color to the front door is an inexpensive way to boost your curb appeal.”

7. Add a deck or patio. If you’re looking to get more out of your backyard and there’s room in your budget, consider adding a deck or patio. “HomeAdvisor puts the average cost at around $7,500, though it can be done for less if you keep the design and materials simple,” says DiClerico. “With the addition of an outdoor fireplace or patio heater, you’ll be able to use the new space well into the colder months, if not year-round.”

Project planning

Even if you’re not ready to launch a big project, now is a great time to start planning. On a major kitchen or bathroom remodel, the planning phase should take from three to six months. DiClerico says homeowners who try to fast track it invariably make costly mistakes.

“Now is the time to gather inspiration images using Pinterest and other social media tools, or starting an old-fashioned scrapbook or design board,” he says. “And you can start to assemble your team, researching contractors, architects and designers. The savviest home pros will be able to hop on a Zoom video call or other telecommuting software.”

Plus the latest virtual reality and augmented reality tools make it possible to get started on the design without a lot of person-to-person contact—all part of the emerging new normal for the home improvement space.

DiClerico says, “It’s also important to note that most home services are small businesses, so home pros are struggling as much as restaurant workers and other members of the service industry. If you’re in a position to hire out certain home maintenance projects, it will help the local economy.”

Article previously published by Brenda Richardson on Forbes.