Home improvement is a broad term that refers to a wide range of construction-related activities performed by homeowners. These include carpentry, electrical work, drywall repair and installation, plumbing, roofing, and tiling. Many homeowners engage in home improvement activities for the enjoyment of learning new skills, and they may also find it satisfying to complete a project that would otherwise be outsourced to a contractor. Home improvement is a popular pastime, with television home renovation shows and home-center chains such as Lowe’s catering to the needs of do-it-yourselfers. In addition, a large variety of books and online resources offer information on how to complete common home improvement projects.
Home improvements can enhance the beauty and function of a house, or they may be done for the purpose of increasing resale value. The latter is especially important in a declining housing market, when it can be difficult to sell a house for its original price. In some cases, a home improvement project is necessary to make the house safe for inhabitants or to prevent damage from a problem such as a leaky roof or an outdated electrical system.
According to a report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, spending on home improvement has increased since its bottom in 2010. This increase is partially attributable to rising housing prices and a growing population of older homeowners who are financially able to afford the costs of home improvements. It is also due to a shift in the way home improvements are carried out, with a greater emphasis on DIY activities.
Many of today’s home improvement projects are influenced by the popularity of television home renovation shows such as Bob Vila’s This Old House and the rise of DIY culture. These trends are in part driven by a desire for nostalgia and a sense of community, and they are also related to the decline of traditional gender roles and the growth of hobbies that appeal to men, such as carpentry. Moreover, the availability of cheap imitation molding and columns has led to a widespread interest in historicizing suburban homes.
Some home improvements are less likely to add value to a property, and some might actually detract from it. For example, a swimming pool is unlikely to increase the resale value of a house, and it may even decrease it by making it harder for potential buyers to picture themselves living in the home.
The decision to renovate a house or to hire professional contractors to do the job is a personal one that depends on each family’s priorities and budget. In general, it is best to prioritize repairs that will keep the house in good shape and avoid costly improvements that aren’t likely to improve the resale value of the house. A qualified real estate agent can help a homeowner decide what upgrades are most appropriate for their particular situation. In any case, it is important to plan ahead carefully and take into account the potential impact of a remodel on the neighborhood before beginning the project.