Family Features – Whether you’ve just bought a new home or you’re looking to refresh your familiar abode, chances are good you have a laundry list of home-improvement projects to accomplish.

From aesthetic upgrades (like replacing the laminate floors in the kitchen with patterned tile) to practical necessities (like removing the tree roots from the sewage pipes), there is no shortage of fall projects for homeowners to tackle. With so much to do, home-improvement projects can feel overwhelming. Rely on research tools such as and these five tips from home blogger and author Justina Blakeney to help you get started.

1. Timing is everything. Prioritize projects by needs, not wants. Blakeney advises making sure important projects like functioning air-conditioning are set before tackling less crucial ones like popcorn ceilings. Create a list of all of the things on your wish list. Then start with the most timely matters and work your way down the list. Be realistic with your goals and always factor in 20 percent more money and time than you think the project will take. This way you leave some leeway for any unexpected issues that may arise.

2. DIY or hire an expert? Some projects are simple enough to DIY, like swapping out the greenery in the yard. But other projects, like installing solar panels or getting a new water heater, may be outside your wheelhouse and better handled by experts. Honestly assess your own level of expertise, permit requirements and local regulations, your budget, your timeline and ultimate goals before deciding whether to DIY or hire an expert. Whether you need a personal organizer or a painter, a foundation specialist or a handyman, if you decide an expert is the way to go, ask friends for referrals and then head online to check business information and dig a little deeper before getting a project bid.

3. Get organized. Doing your homework before starting out on a project can help speed things up later on. Create a collection on a website such as of professionals you will be working with and all the stores you will source materials from. You’ll have all of the info in one place for follow-ups, and it’s easy to share the info with friends once they start asking for recommendations. Also get a clear breakdown of all elements involved in each project, how much each step will cost and deadlines for each step along the way. A clear plan of action will help keep the budget and timeline in check.

4. Get savvy. One of the best ways to save time and money is to find things second hand. Thrift shops, salvage shops and flea markets are great places to find furniture, appliances and hardware on the cheap. Or, repurpose items you already own by moving them to a different room or by painting them different colors. Explore all of your options and resources before going out and spending that hard-earned cash.

5. Just get started. It’s OK to start small. Swap out the old hardware on your kitchen cabinets or fix the broken brick on your patio. Just start somewhere and build your way up to the larger stuff. If you’re feeling paralyzed, try setting and accomplishing one small home-improvement goal every week.