Home improvement is anything that changes, adds to or repairs any part of a house. Some examples include painting or coating, installing new lighting fixtures or other components, or repairing or replacing existing ones. It may also include outdoor work such as driveways, sidewalks and swimming pools. In addition to making your home more comfortable, these projects could also increase the value of your property.
Home improvements may be as simple as painting, or as involved as adding a deck or renovating the kitchen. Generally, homeowners seek to improve their homes to make them more functional and attractive to their family members. Some projects are essential, such as fixing a broken roof or a faulty furnace. Others are intended to increase a home’s appeal and marketability, such as upgrading the master suite or installing a gourmet kitchen.
If you’re considering a large project, the first step is to develop a budget. It’s a good idea to have three to six months worth of living expenses saved up before spending thousands on home improvements. If you’re not able to pay for the project in cash, there are a variety of options available for financing home renovations. A loan backed by your home equity is one option, which typically offers a lower interest rate than an unsecured loan. Another popular option is a home renovation loan offered by Fannie Mae and the FHA. This type of loan is usually structured as a second mortgage and has a fixed rate for the term of the loan.
Once you have a budget in place, you can decide what projects will be most beneficial to your lifestyle and your home’s resale value. Remember, though, that not all projects will yield a good return on investment. Some will even cost you more money in the long run.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, try to avoid costly upgrades that will add to your energy bills without improving your quality of life. Consider a smart thermostat, new energy-efficient windows and insulation. These improvements not only increase your home’s energy efficiency, but can pay for themselves when it comes time to sell.
Before committing to any major home improvement, it’s a good idea to consult with a real estate agent in your area about which improvements will boost the marketability of your home and what you can expect to get back on your investment. You’ll also want to speak with a contractor to learn more about the process and costs for your specific project.
Finally, you should read the fine print of any contract for home improvement before signing it. New York state law requires a written contract for any work done on your home, and it should include a timeline for the project to be completed, a payment schedule and as many details about the job as possible, including specific materials, brands and types. It’s a good idea to read any warranty terms before you sign, too.