Home improvement is a type of renovation or remodeling that improves the function and appearance of a home, building, or garden. Home improvements can include a wide range of activities, from painting and carpeting to installing a new kitchen or bathroom. In some cases, homeowners may undertake home improvement projects to increase the resale value of their property. In other cases, homeowners may wish to make a home improvement as a way to personalize their living space.
The term home improvement has been in use since the early 20th century, reflecting both a general increase in homeownership and a shift in cultural attitudes toward the home as a site of family life and social interaction. This trend was spurred by the growth of television, which began to broadcast step-by-step home improvement shows like Bob Vila’s This Old House in 1979, and by a growing interest among consumers for craftwork. As Steven Gelber notes in American Quarterly, the success of these programs blurred the distinction between traditionally male spheres such as carpentry and the more feminine sphere of home decorating and design.
Some home improvements can be very expensive, and it is important to have a budget before beginning any work. Homeowners can find financing for these projects through a variety of sources, including loans secured by the equity in their homes and credit cards. However, it is usually a good idea to avoid going into debt for these purposes. Debt can add thousands of dollars in additional costs to the project, and it can leave homeowners with less usable space or a lower home equity value.
Depending on the kind of improvement, a homeowner can also save money by making energy-saving upgrades. For example, replacing older windows with more efficient models can save on heating and cooling costs. Additionally, adding insulation to the attic can lower a home’s energy bills and is an easy DIY project.
When determining which home improvement projects to undertake, it is important to consider how the projects will affect a potential buyer’s view of the home. For instance, adding a unique light fixture that is not in keeping with the rest of the home may detract from its overall appeal. If a homeowner plans to sell the home in the near future, it is generally best to consult with a real estate professional before undertaking any major projects.
Whether or not a specific home improvement project will pay for itself in increased resale value depends on a number of factors, including the scope and cost of the work and local market conditions. In general, projects that are considered “must-haves” by prospective buyers typically yield a high return on investment. These projects can include the addition of a master suite, a new kitchen or bath, or a new roof. In contrast, less desirable improvements may not increase a home’s resale value and may even detract from its selling price. Moreover, the return on investment can vary considerably between regions and neighborhoods.