Home improvement is the repair, maintenance or renovation of residential real estate. Home improvements can add functionality or a sense of style to living space, and may include remodeling or adding onto an existing house, installing a fence, planting trees, or building a deck. Many of these projects are not large and do not involve contractors. They can be as simple as a fresh coat of paint or as complex as a complete kitchen renovation.
Certain improvements, like a new roof or remodeled bathroom, increase the value of a home. Others have a more immediate impact, such as fixing a drafty door or replacing the water heater. Still others, such as energy-efficient upgrades (windows, insulation, heat pumps) or a new lawn, pay for themselves in reduced utility bills.
Renovating for your own comfort and convenience is a great way to enjoy your home. However, your renovation decisions should also be guided by how they will affect future buyers. A buyer may not want your personal touches, such as a koi pond or a built-in media center. If you plan to sell your house in the near future, it’s important to renovate to appeal to the broadest range of potential buyers.
Before beginning any project, make sure you have a clear idea of your budget and the time frame in which you want to finish. Using modeling and design tools can be a big help in the planning phase. It’s also smart to build in a 10-15% buffer to account for unexpected expenses. Also, be sure your contract includes a payment schedule and all required inspections and certificates of occupancy.