Home improvement is the process of modifying your living space to meet your personal and family needs. It includes the purchase of building materials, appliances and decor, as well as the services provided by contractors and other tradespeople. Home improvements also include repairs and maintenance work to keep your house in good condition.
According to the American Housing Survey, which interviews owner-occupied households, the average homeowner spent $3,890 on home improvement projects in 2019. These costs can be overwhelming, but many people take a careful approach when planning and executing their projects. The key to a successful remodel is staying on budget.
Many homeowners undertake home improvement projects with the hope that the additions or renovations will increase their home’s resale value. They may think that a new kitchen or master suite will boost their chances of selling the house, or they might want a bigger and better garage or basement. However, it’s important to remember that not all improvements add value. Some may even decrease a home’s resale value.
Since 1979, when Bob Vila’s This Old House premiered on television, DIY home improvement projects have increased in popularity and become mainstream. The show’s success, along with the rise of interest in traditional styles and craftsmanship, contributed to a fascination with “old” houses and the desire to historically renovate suburban homes. Manufacturers and retailers capitalized on this trend by marketing cheap imitation molding, columns and other Victorian-era features for consumers to use in their homes.
While DIY projects are common, most home improvement projects require professional help at some point. Contractors can provide a variety of services, including plumbing, electrical and roofing, as well as kitchen and bathroom remodeling and additions. Contractors can be found by searching online, in print advertisements and through referrals from friends or neighbors. Some contractors specialize in specific types of jobs, while others offer full-service contracting.
In the past, most homeowners paid for their home improvement projects with cash from savings or loans from relatives and friends. More recently, the pandemic led to an uptick in the number of people spending more time at home and boosted the amount of money they were willing to spend on home improvement projects. Despite the financial crisis of 2008, most homeowners report that they usually stick to their budget when undertaking these projects.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when doing home improvements is buying high-end materials without having a clear idea of how much the project will cost, NerdWallet reports. Choosing luxury flooring or cabinetry can quickly add up, and it’s easy for projects to go over-budget when unexpected issues arise.
Another mistake is to overspend on a remodel and then have difficulty keeping up with monthly payments. If you’re not careful, you could end up putting yourself in a financially precarious position when it comes time to sell your house or refinance your mortgage. To avoid these problems, you should plan carefully, choose wisely and talk to a real estate agent about what renovations will add the most value to your home.