Home improvement, or do-it-yourself (DIY) renovations and repairs, are activities that enhance the value of residential real estate. Such projects can include anything from refinishing hardwood floors to installing a new kitchen. Many home improvement projects are relatively inexpensive, but some can be quite costly. Therefore, it is important to determine what improvements will provide the most return for your investment. It is also necessary to consider the impact of any home improvement project on the overall design and aesthetic of your house.
According to the US Census Bureau, in 2005 alone, American homeowners spent over $70 billion on home improvements. During the same year, more than half of all American households employed some form of DIY home improvement activity. These activities are generally classified into two categories: maintenance and repair, and remodeling and improvement. While home repairs can be performed by any homeowner, some projects are best left to professional contractors.
The most common type of home improvement is maintenance work, which includes fixing things that are broken or worn out. In addition to repairing existing items, this category can also include painting, landscaping, and minor structural modifications. These repairs are typically done to keep a home in good condition, or to make it more energy efficient.
Major remodeling projects can add significantly to the value of a home, but it is important to choose wisely. Remodeling projects that improve the functionality of a home, such as adding a garage or bedroom, usually offer the highest return on investment. Homeowners should also focus on high-quality materials and workmanship, as this will increase the longevity of the project.
A growing number of Americans are choosing to make alterations to their homes rather than move. As a result, a variety of home improvement companies have emerged to serve this demand. These firms may be small, independent businesses or part of larger, national chains. Some operate out of a fixed commercial location, while others may operate exclusively on the Internet. Most of these firms are reliable and offer a wide range of services at competitive prices.
Before hiring a contractor, homeowners should ask for references and perform background checks. In addition, they should avoid contractors that do not carry a valid MHIC license. Licensed contractors are required to pass a criminal background check and must carry general liability insurance. In addition, a contract between the homeowner and the contractor should always be written and both parties should sign it before any work begins. Homeowners should also inquire whether a contractor offers a warranty on their work. This is particularly important for projects involving plumbing or electrical work, where the failure of a component could cause extensive damage and expensive repairs. If a warranty is offered, the terms and conditions should be clearly stated in the contract. If a warranty is not offered, the consumer should look for another contractor.