Home improvement refers to any work done on a house or dwelling to improve its comfort, appearance or function. The industry that supports home improvement includes contractors, tradespeople and other workers who do the actual work, as well as companies that sell building materials, appliances and decor. Home improvement has experienced solid growth results in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers spent more time at home and engaged in DIY projects to make their living spaces more attractive and functional.
According to the American Housing Survey, the majority of homeowner renovations are paid for with cash from savings, but higher-dollar projects often involve a mix of funding sources. This includes cash from savings, personal loans, credit cards, mortgage refinancing and contractor arranged financing.
It is essential that homeowners carefully consider their motivation for undertaking any home improvement project. While the desire to increase a home’s value should be a consideration, it is important not to get carried away and overspend, or to undertake work that may not add significant value in the long run. In fact, many remodels and renovations never fully recoup their costs.
There are some improvements that offer strong returns, however. These include energy-efficient upgrades and kitchen or bathroom renovations. In addition, simple and inexpensive projects such as painting or re-grouting tile can yield impressive results.
If you are considering hiring a professional to do some home improvements, it is important that you compare prices and consider the contractor’s reputation and experience. Some firms specialize in particular types of projects while others are a general contractor with a wide range of experience. You should also look at the firm’s track record of completing jobs on schedule and within budget.
Many consumers turn to online resources to help them choose a contractor and determine the cost of a home improvement project. Online reviews of both contractors and products can provide valuable information about the quality of work and customer service offered by a given company. In addition, local newspapers and business publications often carry advertisements for home improvement contractors and businesses.
Before any work begins, all home improvement contractors must have a valid New York State Home Improvement License. It is illegal to engage in home improvement work without a license, and violators can face criminal and civil penalties. Consumers should avoid any contractor that does not have a current MHIC license and always obtain a written contract for home improvement work, with a clear timeline for completion, a payment schedule and as much specificity about the project as possible (such as brands or types of materials).