Home improvement is a wide range of projects that make an existing house more pleasant and functional. It can include improvements to the home’s interior (such as kitchen remodeling or bathroom renovation) as well as exterior (including landscaping work and adding decks and porches). Home improvements can also be used to make a home more energy-efficient, such as by installing new windows, doors and insulation.
Homeowners typically undertake home improvement projects for a number of reasons: to personalize the house to their tastes, to keep up with the maintenance needs of the property, to increase its value in the marketplace, to correct safety problems or to enhance the energy efficiency of the home. In addition, homeowners often renovate to accommodate aging family members or prepare the house for eventual sale to younger generations.
Depending on the nature of the project, the cost and the amount of time it will take to complete, home improvements can be quite expensive. For that reason, they should be carefully planned and executed to ensure a high degree of satisfaction and avoid costly mistakes.
The most popular projects for homeowners in 2022 included repairing or replacing the roof and finishing the basement. Other top projects were a new kitchen remodel and adding a garage or shed to the house. The National Association of Realtors found that home improvements added value to the homes and made them more enjoyable for the residents.
However, the housing market issues caused by the pandemic have delayed some projects and could cause them to decline in 2023. And homeowners are increasingly reluctant to let home improvement contractors in due to the coronavirus concerns. Almost three-quarters of homeowners report that they would be more cautious than usual about allowing home improvement professionals to enter their homes, according to the NerdWallet September survey.
While the number of people undertaking home improvement projects has declined during the pandemic, the underlying motivations remain. The NAR survey found that 83% of respondents were planning to renovate their homes, even before the pandemic hit. Respondents cited motivations such as upgrading worn surfaces and materials (30%), making their homes more functional (24%), increasing the livability of their home (20%) and adding features or improving aesthetics (16%).
Contractors who specialize in home improvement can be found through local and national listings, referral services, real estate agents or by searching online. It is important for consumers to check the license and insurance of the contractors they hire, and to get a written contract with a clear price quote, payment schedule and as many specifics about the work as possible.
Home improvement aggregators, such as Angie’s List, can help homeowners find service providers and receive multiple competing quotes. It is also recommended that homeowners verify a contractor’s licensing and insurance by calling their state’s consumer protection agency, checking business references and performing a background check. A contract should also contain a mandatory arbitration clause and a disclosure that any claim against the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund will be stayed until completion of the mandatory arbitration proceeding.