Home Improvement 101

Home improvement, also known as home renovation or house remodeling, is the process of improving the interior and/or exterior of a dwelling. This could include renovations such as adding a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom; changing the floor plan of the home; adding a deck, patio or porch; or upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Home improvement can be done for a variety of reasons, including to increase the value of the home, make it more functional, or simply to personalize it.

The home improvements that tend to add the most value are those that improve energy efficiency. Upgrades such as replacing windows, installing a heat pump and adding insulation will usually recoup the cost in reduced energy bills. In addition, many of these upgrades qualify for tax credits at the time they are completed.

While some improvements might not add much resale value, such as upgrades that are too personal or go beyond the taste of most buyers, many homeowners find great satisfaction in completing home improvement projects. This is particularly true when the results are obvious. For example, a new deck or fence may be a major improvement in the backyard, but it may not affect your home’s resale value unless it is visible from the street.

According to the American Housing Survey, homeowner spending on home improvement has been cooling down since a pandemic-era renovation frenzy. However, many homeowners still have pricier plans to remodel their homes, a trend likely tied to pent-up demand, says Michael Anderson, chief economist at Lowe’s.

Many homeowners decide to do home improvement projects because they want to feel more comfortable in their homes. This can include a desire to have a bigger kitchen or a bathroom that is more convenient for aging family members. Other reasons for home improvement include fixing problems that are becoming more costly to repair, improving a specific area such as the backyard or making it safer to live in the home.

When choosing contractors to do home improvement work, it is important to select professionals who are licensed and insured in your state and have positive references from past clients. It is also a good idea to establish a payment schedule and withhold final payments until the project is complete and all required inspections have been passed.

Homeowners should consider the overall costs of a particular project before beginning, as it is easy to overspend. To avoid this, it is a good idea to get several quotes from contractors before selecting one to work on the project and to set a realistic budget before beginning the project. Once the work is done, homeowners should keep a careful record of receipts and invoices in case there are any disputes over payments. In the event a dispute arises, homeowners should consult with a qualified attorney for help.

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