Home improvement, also known as remodeling, is the process of renovating or making additions to one’s residence. These improvements can be done for a variety of reasons; including increasing the value of the property, improving security, or simply updating the style and functionality of the living space. Some homeowners choose to undertake home improvement projects themselves, while others hire professionals. Home improvement can be a large project, and it is important to have a clear plan and budget before beginning work.
A well-planned home improvement project can help reduce the risk of cost overruns. It is a good idea to add a cushion of 10%-20% to the total cost of the project to account for unexpected expenses. When estimating the cost of a home improvement project, it is helpful to consult with experts or to find online resources that can provide accurate estimates based on the scope of the job and the quality of materials chosen.
Some home improvement projects are essential and can’t be put off, such as repairing a roof leak or upgrading an electrical system. These projects may not increase the value of a home, but they can save money and prevent serious damage that would require a more costly repair.
Other improvements may be undertaken to make a home more comfortable, such as installing new windows or doors, or adding insulation. These projects can have a significant impact on energy costs. In some cases, the return on investment can be greater than the initial expense, especially when energy savings are considered.
The popularity of home improvement television shows has fueled interest in DIY projects. The show This Old House, for example, prompted many owners to try their hand at historic renovation. As historian Carolyn Goldstein explains, the popularization of this genre of television reflects a larger cultural shift toward nostalgia and artisanship. Manufacturers responded by marketing inexpensive imitation molding and other Victorian era elements to consumers eager to “historicize” their suburban homes.
Despite the economic downturn, spending on home improvements continues to rise. According to the American Housing Survey, households with incomes in excess of $120,000 are most likely to report undertaking a home improvement project and drive 45 percent of market spending. More than half of these projects were financed with cash from savings or debt, while the remainder were paid for using other sources such as home equity loans and contractor arranged financing.
When choosing a contractor for a home improvement project, it is important to check licensing and insurance information and get a referral from a trusted source. It is also a good idea to compare quotes from multiple contractors before making a decision. It is generally recommended to use a licensed and insured professional who offers a fixed price for the project, and provides detailed written contract documents that include a payment schedule, a timeline for work to be completed, a description of the project and a list of all materials and fixtures that will be used.