Home Improvement 101

Home improvement, also called home renovation or remodeling, is the process of renovating or making additions to one’s home. These projects may include upgrading the home’s electrical or plumbing systems, remodeling an existing room, or changing the exterior of the house. In addition to adding beauty and value to the property, home improvements may also improve a home’s energy efficiency or comfort.

According to the Remodeling Impact Report published by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, spending on home improvement is up compared to last year. The increase is partly due to rock-bottom mortgage rates and the fact that many older adults are now living in their own homes for longer periods of time. Home improvements can help them make their living spaces more livable and comfortable, while maintaining their current level of income.

Depending on the scope of work, home improvement can be costly and it’s important to compare prices before hiring a contractor. When comparing costs, consider all aspects of the project including materials, labor, permits, and other fees. You can also save money by doing some of the work yourself. Having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish can help narrow down your options and make it easier to choose the right project.

While it’s tempting to splurge on upgrades that will boost your home’s curb appeal, you should always consider the long-term effects of these decisions. For instance, if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, it might be best to focus on upgrades with a high return on investment such as a new kitchen or bathroom, solar panels or energy-efficient appliances.

Safety is another factor to keep in mind when working on home improvement projects. If you’re doing a project that could potentially put you or your family at risk, such as installing an unattended generator or framing a new shed in the backyard, it’s best to hire a professional.

Before choosing a contractor, be sure to ask for references and check them. You should also ensure the contractor has insurance coverage in case someone is injured during the project or if damage occurs to your property. In addition, you should get a written contract that includes a timeline for when work will be completed, a payment schedule and as many specifics as possible about the work to be performed, such as types or brands of materials.

Taking the time to explore your options, choose the right projects and speak with experts can help you feel confident about your home improvement choices. By doing your research, you’ll be able to find the perfect contractor and feel confident in your ability to achieve your home improvement goals. It’s also a good idea to pre-qualify for a home improvement loan, which can help you decide how much to borrow and speed up the loan application process. By taking these steps, you can take control of your home improvement projects and enjoy a well-maintained, updated home.