Home improvement refers to any renovation that makes your home more comfortable and appealing. It may include adding an addition, remodeling a kitchen or bath, repainting your home’s exterior, installing new doors and windows, building a deck, putting up fences, and more.
After World War II, returning veterans embraced the concept of home improvement to build a sense of family “togetherness.” This, along with government mortgage insurance programs and highway construction, encouraged homeownership in suburban America. At the same time, highly successful television shows such as “Fixer Upper” and “This Old House” helped make the do-it-yourself (“DIY”) home improvement movement popular. It blurred the distinction between the traditionally male dominated realm of carpentry work (and the associated power tools) and the more feminine sphere of interior decorating and design.
According to a recent report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, home improvement spending hit a low in 2010, but has been rebounding since then. Aging baby boomers are a major driver of this growth, as they are the ones most likely to have the equity in their homes to finance renovations. Low interest rates also help to make these investments more attractive, especially in unsettling economic times.
However, it is important to remember that not all home improvements will add value to your home. Before you pick up a sledgehammer, consult with a local realtor to learn which renovations are most likely to pay off. Also, be sure to get multiple estimates before choosing a contractor. Price should not be the only factor, as contractors vary in their quality of workmanship and ability to complete a project on schedule.