Homeowners are often stuck at a crossroads when deciding whether it is time to make a quick fix or invest in a complete upgrade. Some projects are affordable and easy fixes, while others can result in additional costs later if not handled properly from the start.

We asked home improvement experts Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak of HGTV’s show “Good Bones,” who are also partners with Trane Residential, how to navigate tough renovation decisions.

What is the first step to starting a home renovation?

Identify your goals. That answer will differ depending on the home, homeowner and funds available to make improvements. And changes you’re considering can vary from the cosmetic — like a new paint job — to more structural work.

What is the most important decision to make when renovating?

Know when to DIY and when to call a contractor. We can’t stress enough the importance of having a clear understanding of your own skill set.

How do homeowners know if a repair or replacement is needed?

For bigger investments like your HVAC system, contact your local HVAC technician to evaluate the condition of your unit. This will give you an estimate to leverage before deciding to repair or replace. Follow the $5,000 rule: Take the age of your equipment and multiply that by your estimated repair cost. If the number is more than $5,000, then consider replacing your unit. If less, repair it.

How can you lower renovation costs?

There’s a fine line between cutting costs and cutting corners, so look at every project holistically as it relates to your short- and long-term goals. Are you looking to lower bills, enhance comfort, etc.? Seek options that offer more efficient and sustainable solutions. For instance, it might be time to replace your 30-year-old furnace for a more energy efficient model. This could generate significant cost savings down the road and result in a speedy return on your investment.

Anything else to help with tough renovation decisions?

As exciting as addressing the design aspects of a home renovation may be, it’s also important to address the more practical aspects like the mechanical systems or insulation behind the walls. These changes can easily consume your budget, so always reserve funds for unexpected expenses. Also, depending upon where you live and what you buy, you may be eligible for local rebates and tax credits. Don’t miss out on your chance to save.