Home Improvement 101

Home improvement

Home improvement is the maintenance or repair of a home, including its outdoor areas and fixtures. Home improvements can be made to increase the efficiency of a home, to make it more comfortable to live in, or to enhance its appearance. Some examples of home improvement are painting, wall hangings, floor coverings, and installing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. In addition, homeowners often make home repairs to the landscape such as resurfacing driveways and adding awnings or sprinkler systems.

The home improvement industry grew dramatically after World War II as returning soldiers used government mortgage insurance programs to buy homes and then improve them. The growth of the suburban housing market was further fueled by large builders such as Levitt and Sons. Homeowners were also influenced by television shows such as Bob Vila’s This Old House, which helped popularize the DIY movement and led to the development of products that allowed consumers to easily historicize their modern homes.

Many improvements are designed to boost a home’s energy efficiency, which can reduce bills significantly over time. Some common energy-saving projects include replacing windows, adding insulation, and putting in new furnaces or heat pumps. These projects are a good investment because they usually pay for themselves in reduced utility costs. Other high-return projects that are easy to do and have a great visual impact include replacing worn doorknobs, repairing gutters, and painting.

When choosing a contractor to perform a home improvement project, it is important to look for one with a license and adequate liability insurance coverage. Also, reputable contractors will have membership in a trade association or accreditation from a professional organization. Homeowners should also check business references and customer reviews before hiring a contractor. In addition, homeowners should be sure to get bids from several different companies before making a decision.

Most homeowners think their homes will appreciate in value over time, but that’s not always the case. In fact, the average homeowner gets only about 60% of their renovation investment back when they sell. While a sparkling bathroom overhaul or a major kitchen remodel may be worth the cost, other less expensive projects can have a smaller return on investment.

When deciding which improvements to make, homeowners should keep in mind their budget and the length of time they plan on living in their homes. If they want to sell in the future, they should consider which projects will help them recoup their costs and then choose accordingly. But if they plan to stay in their homes for a few more years, they should focus on high-impact projects that will improve their quality of life. In both cases, it is important to avoid over-renovating their homes, as this can detract from the overall value of the property. A recent NerdWallet survey found that homeowners who have taken on a few major home renovations report being satisfied with their decision and feeling more confident about their home’s future value.