Home improvement is the act of enhancing the function and appearance of living spaces in a residential dwelling. It can involve remodeling, repairing, renovating, or adding on to a house or other dwelling. The industry is made up of retail establishments that sell building materials, appliances and decor for such projects, as well as the service providers who perform labor or provide installation.
The home improvement industry is one of the fastest growing industries. The industry reached its peak during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue its strong performance through 2023. It has been supported by increased consumer spending and a rebound in new construction and renovations.
Some improvements are done to improve a home’s value while others are done for the homeowner’s own enjoyment. For example, a homeowner may decide to remodel their kitchen because they love cooking or to create a more functional space for entertaining guests. Other reasons for home improvements include improving energy efficiency with new windows, a heat pump and added insulation. These types of projects typically pay for themselves in lower utility bills.
Regardless of the motivation, most homeowners want their home improvement project to be completed on time and within budget. To ensure that this happens, homeowners should understand the process and plan accordingly.
The first step in the process is determining what improvements are needed and what return on investment can be expected. Once this is determined, a budget can be established and a contractor chosen. It is important that the contractor be licensed and insured to do the work. The contract should contain a description of the work to be performed, a payment schedule and as many specifics as possible about the materials to be used (such as brands, color, size and style).
Another aspect to consider is whether or not there are any local restrictions that may affect the scope of a project. For example, many municipalities require that permits be obtained before starting any work.
Ultimately, homeowners should always choose a contractor that they trust to complete the work and to do it well. To help in this decision, the Better Business Bureau recommends that consumers check a contractor’s BBB rating, as well as license and insurance coverage, before hiring them for any home improvement work. In addition, consumers should request that the contractor’s name, address and MHIC license number be preprinted on the contract. Failure to do so is a violation of New York law and can result in both civil and criminal penalties. Some violations may even result in the revocation of the license. Homeowners are also encouraged to avoid ‘grey market’ contractors and only work with those who belong to a professional trade association or have been approved by a government agency.