10 Fall Home Improvement Projects & How to Save on Costs in 2022

We have broken down 10 of the key home improvements homeowners will want to undertake this fall, along with inflation-busting tips to save on costs.

Ornella Bianco
Updated Nov 17, 2022
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13 min read

Fall is an excellent time of year to undertake home improvement projects. Now that the heat of summer is over, it is time to begin winterizing your home for the colder winter months. While some projects are ongoing throughout the year, fall temperatures and seasonal changes make this the ideal time to prep your home for winter.

High inflation, supply-chain issues, and rising material and labor costs during this year have inflicted a growing uncertainty on homeowners concerning whether or not they should invest in upgrading their homes. It is possible that costs will remain high for a while to come. And while home renovations may seem costly now, investing in the right projects will pay off down the road.

In this article, we offer expert recommendations and tips to help you recognize necessary upgrades and maintenance tasks to ensure your home functions properly this winter. Below we list 10 home improvements for the fall, how much they cost, and some of our best money-saving tips for each project.

1. Clean Out Your Gutters

Close up showing a handyman cleaning leaves from a roof top gutter

Every fall, trees shed their leaves in anticipation of winter. If the leaves build up, they can clog the drains and cause the gutters to stop functioning. Water may then build up at the roof's edge resulting in cracks and rot. If you live in an area with sub-zero temperatures over the winter, wet leaves could also freeze, damaging your gutters even further.

Routine gutter cleaning can prevent issues from neglected gutters like wood rot, pest infestations, and sagging. When cleaning your gutters, inspect them to make sure they are working correctly. Ensure water is not dripping behind the gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place. Check that water drains properly and doesn’t pool around your foundation, as this could cause severe damage to the concrete. If you choose to have your gutters professionally cleaned and inspected, costs should run between $200 - $400, depending on the height and placement of your gutters.

How can you save on costs?

Some professional cleaners offer annual contracts at a reduced price, which can save you money on gutter repairs in the future. However, if professional cleaning is out of your budget, there are ways you can cut down on costs. The easiest way is to clean your gutters yourself, which only requires a ladder, work gloves, and a few hours.

You can also take preventative measures like purchasing a gutter-guard system to keep leaves and debris out or trimming back your trees to prevent large amounts of leaves from falling on your home. Prevent further waterlog issues by ensuring soil and landscaping slope away from the house.

2. Inspect Your Roof 

Winter in cold climates can be very hard on roofs. Before temperatures drop, ensure your roof is in excellent condition to prevent any minor issues from becoming major over the winter. This task is usually done by a professional and follows the rules and procedures set out by municipal or county governments.

The inspector checks the roof either by high-definition photos or in person to ensure it can withstand the climate in your area. They often look for missing tiles or shingles, holes in the roof, improper nail or fastening work, and inspect the decking and eaves to look for rot. A professional roof inspection often costs between $100 - $600, depending on whether it is in person or by photo and how detailed the inspection is.

How can you save on costs?

To save money on costly repairs, regularly inspect your roof with binoculars to spot damaged or missing shingles or tiles, and address them as soon as possible. Clear and prune trees, so they do not drop leaves and old branches on the surface and inspect your attic for evidence of leaks after rainstorms.

For greater safety and assurance hire a licensed professional for your specific type of roof every year or two. A professional inspection will prevent expensive damage to your roof by catching issues early on when they are small and affordable to repair.

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3. Insulate Your Roof

Man installing thermal roof insulation using mineral wool panels

While inspecting your roof, it is also a good time to check out your attic or roof insulation. A poorly insulated roof allows heat to escape, causing your heating system to work harder. Poor attic insulation costs you money in the form of higher electric bills and will cause your HVAC system to wear out faster. Insulating or re-insulating your roof can lower your energy bills and help your HVAC system last longer.

Roof or attic insulation is a money-saving addition to your home through lower energy bills, ice dam prevention, and increased pest resistance. Hiring a professional to install new or upgraded insulation costs approximately $2,000 - $3,250 but will pay for itself in savings over a few winters.

How can you save on costs? 

With material price increases and equipment delays being reported it is important to be prepared and informed on the best options for your specific roof type before cold winter months arrive. One of the simplest and cheapest ways to insulate an attic is to add insulation to the floor, using fiberglass batts, blown-in fiberglass, or cellulose. Fiberglass batts are the most affordable option and can be used on their own or mixed with blown-in insulation, like spray foam, for a more effective solution.

Spray foam may give you the best insulating value and is quicker to install, but can be more expensive. Consult the amount of insulation you need, determined by your climate-zone-based R-value, and hire a licensed professional in advance to consider the best options for your home.

4. Carry Out Weatherstripping 

Weatherstripping prevents warm air from escaping and cold air from getting in. The Department of Energy recommends homeowners weatherstrip their homes each fall to ensure the house is as energy efficient as possible during the winter. They encourage you to add weatherstripping to all windows and doors, particularly in areas like thresholds where air gaps can be found.

The cost to weatherstrip a home can vary based on the materials used but are typically between $200 - $600 to weatherstrip a whole home, with most homeowners paying around $350 for a handyman to install weatherstripping in a 2,000 sq.ft. home.

How can you save on costs? 

Weatherstripping is a project that you can do yourself. Low-cost weatherstripping, including felt, non-porous tape, or rolled vinyl, can be easily attached to all your doors or windows, allowing you to weatherproof your house on a small budget. Self-stick varieties may be a good fit if you do not have the right experience, tools, or equipment.

When weatherstripping, ensure your thresholds are the proper height and barely touch the bottom of the door. Non-movable areas such as fixed sash windows can also be sealed with caulk on the exterior. Remember to inspect your weatherstripping and exterior caulking each year. If you notice gaps or worn areas, replace them right away to save money on heating and cooling bills.

5. Winterize Your Plumbing

Winterizing faucet cover on exterior brick wall

Cold, sub-freezing winter temperatures can be brutal on your pipes. Water expands when it freezes and can easily cause pipes to burst or rupture, leading to expensive water damage. Repairing a burst pipe can cost between $200 and $1,000 for the pipe alone, roughly $150 - $250 per foot of pipe. This cost doesn’t account for water damage, which can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

The best way to prevent pipe bursts is to winterize all your pipes, particularly on the outside walls of your home or yard, before the temperatures drop below zero. A professional can drain and inspect any outdoor piping and check up to 7 or 8 areas for damage for between $75 to $150. Considering the damage a burst pipe can do, this is money well spent every fall.

How can you save on costs?

To save money, you can drain outdoor systems yourself and have a professional take a look at them for reassurance, especially any pipes inside your home. If you’re planning on leaving for an extended period of time, make sure to turn the main service valve off and open all taps to drain the remaining water from your plumbing in case temperatures drop.

During particularly cold weather, you can also turn your faucets to a small drip to avoid frozen or burst pipes. A burst pipe, especially when you are not home, can be costly, and taking steps to prevent water damage is worth the investment.

6. Inspect and Maintain Your Siding 

If your home has siding, inspecting it before winter and repairing any imperfections is essential. Carefully check your entire exterior for issues. If you find any holes, cracks, splitting, water, or mold damage, have it repaired as quickly as possible, particularly before the first frost.

The cost of repairing your siding varies widely depending on the extent of the damage and the materials used in construction. It could cost as little as $100 for minor damage or up to $1,700 for more significant repairs. Regardless of the nature of the repairs, fall is a great time to have work done on your siding. The lower temperatures and UV index reduces fading and discoloration of new paint or stains.

How can you save on costs?

You can make minor repairs and paint or stain touch-ups to save money. For more significant issues, hire a professional to fix them immediately. If left untreated, a hole can quickly become a problem as moisture, dust, insects, and even roof rats can get between the siding and the insulation, creating a larger and more costly issue.

Siding can also be damaged by repeated impact from lawnmowers and exposure to heat from fire pits and barbecues. Make sure to keep dangerous items like these several yards away from your siding. Anticipating problems and fixing them early on can save you a lot of money in the long run.

7. Replace Old Windows

Construction worker replacing old windows during home renovations

While some people might be concerned about replacing windows in a season with variable weather like fall, it is actually one of the best times to upgrade old, drafty windows to new, energy-efficient models. Replacing your windows will cost an average of $3,500 - $10,500, depending on how many windows your home has and which type of window you choose.

Newer windows have better seals that prevent climate-controlled air from leaving your home and hot and cold air from entering. They also have a UV coating to help prevent paint and furniture from fading due to solar radiation.

How can you save on costs?

Energy-efficient windows will save you money on heating and cooling costs and add value to your home when you sell. You might try to install new windows yourself to save on costs, but a lot of the savings come from the quality of the seals around the window.

You can also save some money by switching to more affordable window frame options, such as vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. If your house has many old windows to replace or the sum currently outweighs your budget, consider preventative measures such as awnings, blinds or shades, window films, or exterior shutters to improve the energy efficiency of your current windows.

8. Clean, Inspect & Repair Your Chimney 

If your home has a chimney you use in the winter, have it inspected, cleaned, and repaired every fall. Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves are cozy additions to a home, but creosote residue from burnt wood can build up and block the chimney over time. This build-up can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Having your chimney cleaned or inspected in the fall before you use it over the winter can cost between $100 - $500. You may also ask to test your carbon monoxide detectors before lighting a fire to ensure they are in proper working order. If your cleaning or inspection leads to finding any damage, have it repaired quickly, as cracks can develop. Cracks can leak smoke and carbon monoxide into your home and weaken the chimney's structure. While chimney repairs can often run between $250 - $1,200, they will keep your chimney working and prevent serious issues.

How can you save on costs?

Dirty or damaged chimneys can be costly to repair in the long run. They can potentially lead to serious problems like carbon monoxide leaks or chimney collapse. The best way to save money is to keep your chimney clean and fix any issues, like patching up cracks or holes as soon as they occur.

For the fastest service possible remember to book cleaning and inspection services in advance or try to schedule annual visits to avoid delays. If your chimney is merely decorative or you don’t plan on using the fireplace, consider closing the damper and checking for any gaps that can be sealed with foam insulation to prevent heat from escaping.

9. Check Your Heating Systems

Technician checking and measuring heating system equipment.

The worst time to discover a broken or malfunctioning HVAC system is during the first cold snap in winter. Testing your HVAC system before the weather turns frigid helps you schedule necessary maintenance before the cold season. Make sure to replace your furnace filter at least once a year or when it is clogged. A dirty filter reduces airflow, which lowers the efficiency and efficacy of your system and can lead to expensive repairs.

Consider having an HVAC professional check and tune your system or perform an energy audit of your home. They can ensure optimal performance and energy efficiency while catching issues before they become costly problems. Typical HVAC inspections run between $250 - $400, making the minor expense worth the trouble.

How can you save on costs?

You can replace your filters and clean your ducts fairly easily. Routine upkeep lets you perform preventative maintenance to help lower your energy bills and keep your system lasting longer.

You can also check the air filter in the heat pump or furnace monthly without professional help. However, unless you have experience working with HVAC, you’ll likely want to schedule an annual inspection to ensure that your system gets a detailed, accurate check.

Compare quotes to get the best price on your HVAC inspection

10. Landscape and Yard Work

Although your lawn growth may be slow, grass roots conserve energy and grow deeper into the soil during fall. This makes fall the ideal time to fertilize and reseed for a thicker, healthier lawn in the spring. Start by mowing your lawn to 1.5”, and use a leaf rake to remove damaged grass blades. You can also aerate the lawn and use a plug aerator to remove large sections of damaged lawn or eliminate invasive grass species. If you have a large lawn, hiring a contractor to aerate your property costs an average of $140 per ¼ acre.

You can also hire a lawn care specialist to fertilize your lawn for between $200 - $500, which typically includes materials, supplies, and labor costs. After fertilizing, apply lawn seed using a broadcast spreader. The cost to reseed a lawn depends on the square footage and the species of lawn seed.

How can you save on costs?

You can perform some landscaping and lawn maintenance tasks yourself to save money, such as lawn mowing and spreading seed. Other important yard work tasks include trimming branches overhanging your home and pruning perennial shrubs and flowers.

Fall pruning sends the plant’s energy to the root, ensuring improved growth the following year. In addition, you can also save money by selecting more cost-effective, high-yield grass crops such as clover, or by obtaining a monthly or annual lawn care contract at a reduced price.

Ensure Your Home Is Prepared for Winter Without Breaking the Bank

Winter can be harsh and minor issues can quickly become larger, more expensive problems if not solved in advance. Take the opportunity this fall to prepare your home for the coming winter and make repairs and upgrades that will save you money in the long run. Tackle these home improvement projects this fall, and live in a healthier, greener, safer home this winter.