Home improvement is the process of improving the interior and exterior of a house. It can be done to increase the value of the property or simply to make it more livable. Some common home improvements include replacing windows, painting, adding or removing walls, installing new flooring, and remodeling the kitchen and bathroom. Home improvements can be expensive and should only be undertaken when necessary. However, sometimes homeowners over-spend or go into debt when doing home improvements. Oftentimes, this can lead to costly foreclosures or bankruptcy.
The home improvement movement took off after World War II, as returning veterans sought a sense of security in their new suburban homes. Government mortgage insurance programs encouraged homeownership, and home-center chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot expanded their market share. Homeowners could now purchase their own materials and tools to improve their houses at reasonable prices. In addition, the emergence of television shows such as “This Old House” and “Tool Time” promoted DIY home renovations and further increased consumer demand for both hardware stores and building supplies.
It is important for homeowners to understand that not all home improvement projects will add value to their homes. Some, such as adding a pool or converting a garage into a living space, will only decrease the resale value of the house. Other renovations, such as putting in a state-of-the-art kitchen or installing new flooring, will typically increase the resale value of the home.
A good way to avoid over-spending on a home improvement project is to do research before hiring contractors and choosing materials. Consumers should check to see if potential contractors are licensed, insured and have good customer reviews. They should also try to get quotes from multiple contractors before selecting one. Consumers should also avoid companies that require a deposit upfront.
Many homeowners renovate their homes with the intent of increasing the resale value. While this is a great idea, it’s important to remember that not all home improvements will add value. High-end upgrades, such as marble countertops and a new kitchen floor, may not be of interest to most buyers. In order to maximize resale value, it’s best to stick with mid-range upgrades that will appeal to the majority of potential buyers.
Before beginning a home improvement project, it’s important to research the cost of materials and compare pricing between retailers. It’s also a good idea to consult with a real estate professional to determine what types of home improvements will add the most value. Lastly, it’s important for homeowners to be aware of the tax laws in their area. For example, in New York State, a home improvement project is only tax-exempt if the contractor provides documentation that the renovation is a capital improvement. This can be obtained by submitting Form ST-124, Certificate of Capital Improvement. Credit cards can also be a convenient way to finance home improvements, as they often offer a 0% introductory rate for up to 12 months.