Home improvement is any renovation, addition, upgrade or repair that improves the overall function and value of a home. The concept is broad and varied, and includes projects such as building a deck, putting in a new kitchen, finishing a basement or installing an energy efficient furnace. Home improvements can also be aesthetic in nature, such as painting, wallpapering, hanging new doors or installing trim work. The term home improvement is often used interchangeably with the terms remodeling and renovation.
Many homeowners undertake remodeling projects with the intention of increasing their home’s resale value. A few well-placed upgrades can boost the price of a house significantly. But not all projects are created equal, and some may even decrease a property’s value.
Some homeowners have difficulty distinguishing between what they want and what will add value to the home. They often spend money on upgrades such as a custom-built swimming pool, state-of-the-art kitchen or a remodeled bathroom that may appeal to them but are not likely to appeal to prospective buyers. This can leave the house looking “over-personalized,” which can detract from its resale value.
Regardless of the reasons for your renovation, it’s important to think through the potential return on investment before you begin work. If you are not certain about the potential ROI, consult with a real estate professional before you start any work. He or she can help you determine what projects will most benefit your resale prospects and provide the best return on your investment.
Home improvement can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to save up for the work before you start. If you’re not able to afford to pay for the renovations up front, consider applying for a home equity loan. This is an installment loan repaid over five-to-30 years, with fixed monthly payments. However, a home equity loan cannot exceed 85% of your home’s value.
A home improvement project that may offer a quick return on investment is upgrading your heating and cooling systems to energy-efficient models. These upgrades can reduce energy costs while providing better air quality in your home. Depending on the type of system you choose, these energy-efficient upgrades can pay for themselves within a few years.
When choosing a contractor, make sure he or she is licensed and insured. This protects you from unlicensed workers and ensures that any work performed is up to code. Also, it protects you in the event that a worker is injured on your property or damage occurs to your home while the project is underway. You should also check references before hiring a contractor for any major project. Ask for names and numbers of past clients and contact them to see if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work. Finally, make sure to compare quotes before choosing a contractor for any project. This will help you get the best prices and avoid paying for unnecessary services or materials. This will also keep you from getting ripped off by unscrupulous contractors.