Home improvement is the process of renovating or remodeling parts of a residence. It can be done to make a house more livable or simply to increase its value. Some examples of home improvements are adding a new roof, repaving the driveway, or remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. Home improvements can also include projects such as painting, putting in a garden, or planting trees.
Many of these home improvement tasks can be completed by a do-it-yourselfer, but it’s always best to hire a professional if you’re not comfortable with the work involved or if you’re dealing with dangerous tools or chemicals. Home improvement services are available at a number of places, including local hardware stores, home-center chains, and independent companies that specialize in one type of home improvement project.
Whether you’re upgrading your living space or making repairs to prepare your home for sale, you want to get the most bang for your buck. But too often homeowners choose options that don’t add much to the resale value of their property, or they overspend and end up going into debt. A wiser approach is to save money and pay cash for your upgrades, or, if you must borrow, use a low-interest, short-term loan.
If you’re planning to sell your home soon, talk to a real estate agent about what improvements will boost your resale value. Be sure to only make changes that will appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. For example, adding a hot tub or expensive fountain to your backyard may not appeal to most people and could actually deter some buyers.
When you do hire contractors for major home improvements, check their licenses and insurance coverage before beginning any work. You should also insist on a written contract that includes an itemized estimate of all materials and costs, a timeline for completion, and a payment schedule. In addition, by law in many areas, contractors must give homeowners a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate upon request.
While some home improvements are only cosmetic — like a fresh coat of paint or resealing a leaky faucet — other projects can be essential and increase the comfort, safety, and utility of your home. A home inspector can identify hidden problems that should be addressed before they become serious.
A home is a big investment in both dollars and emotion. Taking care of it is an ongoing responsibility, and there are always things to be done, whether minor repairs or major remodels. With rock-bottom interest rates and home prices, now is a great time to make improvements and upgrade your lifestyle. However, before you start any projects, consider the ROI (return on investment) to ensure that your home will improve its resale value and help you qualify for a low-cost mortgage or refinance. And always avoid sloppy or rushed work that can cost more in the long run. Using this guide to learn how to make the right home improvements can ensure that your renovations will be money well spent.