Home improvement, also known as renovation or remodeling, is the process of improving the interior and exterior of a residential structure. This can include, but is not limited to: painting, carpeting, flooring, windows and doors, landscaping, installing a swimming pool, heating and cooling systems and adding a deck or patio.
Each year, homeowners in New York spend more than a billion dollars on work ranging from the replacement of an outdated kitchen or bathroom to the complete gut rehabilitation of an older home. These projects add a sense of pride to neighborhoods and help to maintain property values.
However, if not done wisely, home improvements can be expensive and often end up costing more than initially expected. It is common for homeowners to hire contractors without obtaining estimates from multiple companies, and it is easy for projects to go over budget when unexpected problems arise such as a plumbing leak that leads to rotted subflooring or shingles that need replacing.
According to a NerdWallet survey, however, 80% of homeowners say they stick to the home improvement budgets they set. This is likely a result of improved awareness of the costs associated with home repairs and improvement projects, as well as the increased emphasis on evaluating contractors’ credentials before hiring them.
Whether or not home improvement is an investment or simply a way to improve one’s living space, the fact is that most people feel satisfaction with their homes when they have successfully completed some form of home improvement project. In a 2022 study, the National Association of Realtors found that more than half of respondents cited improved enjoyment with their homes as a reason for upgrading.
Some of the most popular home improvement projects in recent years have involved fixing up bathrooms, kitchens and basements. According to the Contractor Growth Network, these types of projects account for more than a third of all home improvement spending. However, these renovations tend to offer the lowest return on investment of all projects, averaging about a 60% return when it comes time to sell.
Other reasons for renovating include a desire to upgrade worn surfaces and finishes, adding features or improving livability, and updating the look of the home. This may be especially true in more urban areas, where homeowners have more options for materials and styles.
In general, home improvement spending has been higher this year than last. This can be attributed to lower interest rates and a growing population of older homeowners with equity in their homes that they can use to finance home improvements.
Whenever hiring a contractor for any home improvement project, it is important to ask for referrals from friends and neighbors and to interview potential contractors thoroughly. Ask each to provide a written contract with a detailed schedule of work, a payment plan and specifics about the materials to be used. In addition, always verify a contractor’s insurance coverage to ensure that you are protected should an injury or damage occur on the job site.