What Is Home Improvement?

Home improvement is any change made to a home, land or other building that increases its value and/or improves the quality of life. It includes repairs, additions and replacements of existing features. This also can include improvements to outdoor spaces like gardens, decks and patios. In general, adding square footage to a home will increase its value, but any renovations should be carefully considered to ensure they make sense for your lifestyle and are consistent with the current architectural style of your house.

The definition of home improvement is broad and can include anything from fixing a broken faucet to a complete kitchen remodel. Homeowners can complete projects on their own or hire a contractor to do the work for them. While some projects are more complicated than others, most can be done by the average homeowner with the help of some good advice and tools.

A primary suite is one of the best ways to add value to a home, but that type of upgrade requires a significant investment in terms of money and time. Before making this kind of major renovation, homeowners should consult with a real estate agent to be sure it will boost the home’s resale value. For less expensive upgrades, a little creativity and sweat equity can add up to big improvements. Even painting or re-grouting tile can add value to a home.

In the past year, 3 in 5 homeowners (61%) have taken on at least one home improvement project, according to NerdWallet’s American Housing Survey. This was up from the previous two years, when fewer than 1 in 5 homeowners (37%) took on a project during this period.

Homeowners typically fund their home improvement projects with cash from savings, a mortgage or home equity line of credit, an FHA loan or credit card debt. Those with more costly improvements usually secure financing through sources like cash-out refinancing, home equity loans or contractor arranged financing.

The biggest improvements can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some can even require permits and inspections from local officials. For this reason, homeowners should talk to a licensed contractor and be sure all agreements are in writing before work begins. This will help protect both parties from any disagreements or misunderstandings down the road.

Many homeowners have questions about specific home improvement projects, such as what renovations are worth the money and how to find reliable contractors. The right home improvements can make a house feel new again and be a great source of pride for owners. It’s important to remember, however, that if you renovate for the sake of resale value, you may not get back your investment in the long run. Your own comfort and enjoyment are the more pressing reasons to do home improvements. That way, you can enjoy your improvements for years to come and know that they are well worth the effort.