Home Improvement Basics

Home improvement is a term that covers the changing or improving of the interior and exterior parts of a home. The improvements may also include the addition of new rooms, and upgrading of existing rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms. It can also cover the construction of a deck, fence or driveway. Home improvement is a multibillion dollar industry and is expected to grow even more in the coming years. The home improvement sector is largely driven by television programs such as Bob Vila’s This Old House and the increasing interest in craftsmanship among homeowners.

With rock-bottom interest rates, homeowners are in the mood to improve their homes. About 3 in 5 homeowners say they’ve taken on a home improvement project since March, according to the NerdWallet survey. The majority of those projects were outdoor ones. Deck construction jumped 275%, hiring landscapers went up 238% and installing fences rose 144%. Some of these home improvements are a necessity: fixing electrical problems, addressing roof leaks or replacing faulty windows and doors. Others are less urgent but still important, such as upgrading appliances or making your living space more energy-efficient.

Many people renovate their homes to increase their resale value. However, not all upgrades will boost resale value, and some may even make your home less valuable in the long run. The key is to choose wisely and understand what buyers want in your area.

For example, while a gourmet kitchen might appeal to you, it might not to a potential buyer. On the other hand, a well-maintained front lawn and a fresh coat of paint are inexpensive but add high-value curb appeal. Choosing upgrades that are in line with neighboring homes will help ensure you get the highest return on your investment.

The best way to choose a home improvement project is to consult with a real estate agent in your area to learn what will increase your home’s value and what will not. A professional can also guide you on any home renovation projects that will save you money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes.

NerdWallet’s survey shows that homeowners are generally satisfied with their home improvement projects. Most said they enjoyed spending time in their upgraded home and felt more comfortable with it than before the renovations. The satisfaction factor was particularly strong for those who upgraded their kitchens.

When hiring contractors to work on your home, it’s always a good idea to ask for references and verify their license and insurance before hiring them. Performing these simple steps can help prevent problems down the road, like a plumbing leak that turns into a rotted subfloor or shoddy shingle repairs that lead to future damage. It’s also smart to set a budget before starting the project and stick to it. Roughly 80% of homeowners in our survey said they stick to their home improvement budgets, compared to 76% last year. Using a service that bundles multiple contractors and offers discounts could be another way to reduce costs.