Home improvement, also called remodeling or renovation, is the process of repairing or improving an existing property. It can include both interior and exterior work, such as tiling, painting or installing doors and windows. It may also involve adding an addition to a house, including garages or gardens.
Home improvements are a major source of spending in the US, with total projects growing 44% over two years in the 2021 American Housing Survey, from 94 million to 134.8 million. This translates to a massive $624 billion spent by homeowners on those projects in just a decade.
It can be a great way to save money and make your home more attractive. But before you start, it is important to know the best ways to approach home improvement projects.
1. Pay for work in stages 2. Never pay the contractor the full price upfront. Rather, create a payment schedule that is based on progress on your job. This can be a lower down payment, and then additional payments as the work is completed.
3. Do your homework
Before hiring a home improvement contractor, it is important to do a background check on the company. This includes checking for licensing and insurance as well as verifying references from previous customers. In addition, contractors should be screened for serious criminal convictions to ensure they are trustworthy and able to handle your project safely.
4. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.
A large number of homeowners turn to their friends and neighbors to get referrals when they are looking for home improvement professionals. They can ask friends who have used a specific home improvement contractor for their services, and they can also use online resources like Thumbtack to find local service providers.
5. Hire a licensed contractor
The Home Improvement Contractor Licensing and Regulatory Agency (HICLAR) provides licensing and insurance to residential and commercial home improvement contractors in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. They have to pass a test on home improvement law and general business competency and are also required to be screened for serious criminal convictions.
6. Do your research before hiring a contractor
When choosing a home improvement contractor, it is important not to be lured by a low bid. This can be a sign of a bad contractor or a shoddy work. It is advisable to compare the contractor’s price to other quotes and then negotiate with the contractor for a better quote.
7. Ask the contractor to provide you with a written contract before starting the work.
A written contract should contain a detailed description of the work to be done, a timeline for completion and a payment schedule. It should also be signed by both parties.
8. Ensure your contractor is properly insured and licensed
In the state of New York, you are protected from losses of up to $20,000 per claimant from poor workmanship if you hire a licensed home improvement contractor. In addition, you are entitled to receive an award of up to $150,000 from the Home Improvement Commission’s Guaranty Fund for any alleged violation of the home improvement law by a licensed contractor.