Home improvement is the act of renovating or repairing a residential building. The term covers a broad range of improvements, such as remodeling bathrooms or kitchens, adding rooms or extensions, and the installation of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Homeowners typically invest in home improvements to increase the value of their property, and improve their quality of life. However, not all home renovations are created equal. In fact, some projects can actually detract from a home’s value, turning off prospective buyers. By knowing what home improvements add value, and which ones to avoid, you can make smarter decisions about the best investments to make in your home.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the most common home improvements are kitchen and bathroom renovations. These are followed by garage door replacement, new windows, and deck construction. Other popular improvements include installing a new front door and repainting the exterior of your home. Many homeowners are also adding outdoor living spaces, such as a patio or deck, and installing fences. These are popular house renovations because they increase the usable space of a home, and can be easily added to in the future should you decide to sell.
It’s important to choose the right contractors for your home improvement projects. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and do your research online. Look for local contractor listings, and check their reviews. Before you hire a contractor, talk to them about your project and budget. They should be willing to work with you to develop a reasonable timeline and cost estimate for the work. They should also be licensed and insured.
If you’re looking for a quick and affordable way to boost your home’s curb appeal, consider a fresh coat of paint or a new door. These simple upgrades can make your home look brand new, and are one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your property’s value.
Other simple home improvements that can make a big difference include a well-maintained lawn, a freshly painted front door, and a few strategically placed shrubs or trees. Aim for midrange options, such as crepe myrtles or Eastern red cedar, to keep your costs down.
The top-rated home improvements on the Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling magazine are sparkling bathrooms and a new master suite. These projects offer the highest return on investment, bringing in an average of 75% of the money spent.
If you’re thinking of making a major home improvement, consult with a real estate agent about which projects are likely to add value to your home. And remember, you should never go into debt to finance a home improvement. Unless you have plenty of cash on hand, it’s usually better to take out a home equity loan instead. This is an installment loan backed by the equity in your home, and pays back over five to 30 years via fixed monthly payments. The maximum amount you can borrow is 85% of your home’s current market value, or the loan amount plus closing costs, origination fee, and appraisal fees.