The home improvement industry comprises establishments that manufacture and retail building materials, appliances, decor, and other enhancements for dwellings. It also includes firms that supply construction services and workers to perform renovations and improvements. Home improvement projects may be as simple as painting or replacing a light fixture or as complex as adding an entirely new room. The industry also includes companies that provide financial services to consumers seeking to improve their homes.
There are three main reasons homeowners choose to renovate their homes: enhancing the quality of life within the home, increasing the resale value, and responding to urgent needs or problems such as a flooded basement or faulty electrical wiring. It is important for home owners to balance the cost of the improvements against the potential return on investment when they decide what projects to tackle.
Many home improvement contractors are reputable and will complete work to a high standard, but there are a number of unscrupulous operators who use misleading advertising or do not carry adequate insurance. Consumers are advised to research a contractor before hiring them, and to ask for a written contract with a clear timetable, payment schedule, and list of all work to be carried out. Consumers are also advised to check whether a company is licensed and insured, and to look for membership of a trade association or accreditation by a professional body.
Although resale values for most projects are declining, there are still some improvements that offer a good return on investment. Creating a master suite (a bedroom with its own bathroom and perhaps a walk-in closet) is a popular way to increase the value of a property, as is adding another toilet or shower. However, it is important to ensure that the new addition is suitable for the type of dwelling and its location, as buyers will not want to pay extra for a house that requires extensive and expensive renovations.
Other home improvement projects that will increase the value of a property include installing energy-efficient windows, adding a deck or patio, and updating the kitchen and bathrooms. It is important to ensure that these improvements are made in a style consistent with the rest of the property, and to use quality materials.
It is also worth noting that some repairs, such as fixing a leaky roof or addressing damp subfloors, should be completed before carrying out any improvements. Putting off these tasks can lead to serious damage and health risks.
Some improvements, such as replacing a front door or painting the exterior of a house, have a relatively low cost and will improve the appearance of a home. Other projects, such as converting an attic or a shed into additional living space, will increase the overall value of a property and make it more attractive to prospective buyers. In addition to these projects, it is also possible to add value to a property by making environmentally friendly upgrades, such as installing solar panels.