Home improvement, as the name implies, refers to any type of work or renovation done on a property that enhances its utility and/or appearance. Such work may include installing a new roof, repaving a driveway or painting the exterior of the house. However, some home improvements can be much more involved, such as remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, adding a pool or building a deck. In general, home improvements increase a house’s value and can help make it more attractive to potential buyers.
During these unsettling times, more Americans are choosing to stay put and invest in making their current homes better fit their lifestyles rather than trading up or down, says real estate marketplace Houzz. In fact, spending on home improvement is up more than 50 percent from a low in 2010, with those aged 55 and older responsible for the bulk of that increase.
The categories showing the biggest spikes in activity are outdoor projects: landscaping is up 275%, building a deck is up 321% and fence construction is up 144%. Other areas where homeowners are investing include upgrading bathrooms and kitchens, converting garages to living space and putting in a new roof.
But before you splurge on that new kitchen range or marble floors, it’s important to understand how these improvements affect resale value. The general rule is that the more customized a renovation to your tastes, the less likely it will appeal to a future buyer. So if you’re considering doing any major upgrades, talk to your local real estate agents to see what the market is telling you.
Also, when selecting a contractor for any home improvement project, don’t rely on price alone. Different contractors offer varying rates, and even the best-priced contractor can be a bad choice if they aren’t licensed, insured and capable of doing the work required. It’s always a good idea to get at least three estimates and compare factors such as experience, reputation, references and business licenses.
One of the most common (and cost-effective) ways to upgrade a house is by adding crown molding. This decorative strip can easily be purchased at a home improvement store and installed by the homeowner or with the assistance of a handyman. It adds character and is a simple way to boost a room’s aesthetic appeal.
Other home improvement ideas that can add real value are replacing old windows and doors, refinishing hardwood floors, adding a fresh coat of paint to the exterior of the house and re-grouting tile in the bathroom or kitchen. Many of these projects can be performed by the average do-it-yourselfer, and can significantly improve a house’s value without going into debt or ransacking savings. Whether you’re thinking of selling or just want to make your home more livable, these do-it-yourself improvements are worth considering.