The Basics of Home Improvement

Home improvement, also known as home renovation or remodeling, is the process of upgrading the interior and exterior of a house. This includes changing or replacing floor plans, fixtures and appliances. It may also include work on the yard and garden. It is a popular hobby and a major business for many. In the United States, it is estimated that homeowners spend more than $6 billion a year on home improvements.

Some home improvement projects are necessities, like fixing a roof leak or an electrical problem. Others can be done to increase a property’s value or to make it more enjoyable to live in, such as adding an outdoor living space or updating the kitchen or bathroom.

Most homeowners are able to perform some of the more simple home improvement tasks themselves, such as painting walls or building shelves. However, a more substantial project, such as installing a new kitchen or bathroom, is often best left to professionals. When hiring contractors to do larger home improvement projects, it is important for homeowners to carefully compare their qualifications and costs. It is also recommended that homeowners get quotes from more than one contractor, to ensure the most competitive price and the best quality work.

The first step in home improvement is to determine the type of work that needs to be performed. Then, a budget must be established. This should include the cost of all materials and labor, as well as a 10%-20% buffer to cover unexpected expenses that may arise during the course of the project. The next step is to find a contractor who is licensed, insured and has a good track record with past clients. Homeowners should ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and always check references.

After finding a contractor, homeowners should discuss the type of work that needs to be done and the desired time frame for completion. Then, a contract can be drawn up. This should clearly state the work to be completed, the price, and a timeline for when the project will begin and be finished. Homeowners should read the contract carefully and make sure that all terms are understood before signing it.

Once the work begins, homeowners should keep up with progress. This will help prevent costly mistakes or miscommunications with the contractor. It is also a good idea to visit the job site regularly and ask questions.

When the project is completed, the final step is to enjoy the new space. For resale purposes, it is wise to consult with a real estate agent about what types of home improvements will add the most value. For example, a backyard fountain might seem luxurious, but it won’t likely appeal to most buyers. And, an above-ground pool might stand out in a neighborhood where most homes have in-ground pools. It is also recommended to choose upgrades that are consistent with the style of the neighborhood.