Home Improvement 101

Home improvement refers to the remodeling, altering, renovating, repairing, or restoring of the interior and exterior of a house. It also includes the installation of equipment, fixtures and finishes. Home improvements can be done by the homeowner or hired out to a professional.

After World War II, returning veterans and new families drove home renovations. Government mortgage insurance programs encouraged homeowners to purchase suburban homes and invest in remodeling projects.

Television home improvement shows, such as Bob Vila’s This Old House and Trading Spaces, helped to further popularize DIY projects. By the 1980s, gender lines began to blur as women embraced the hobby of home improvement. With the advent of more complex tools and higher-quality construction materials, many females became competent at carpentry and other aspects of home improvement.

In recent years, the number of Americans undertaking home improvements has surged. Several factors are at play, including rock-bottom interest rates and the perception that it’s easier to make financial gains by investing in one’s own property rather than spending money abroad or on stocks.

The most popular home improvements include adding bedrooms and bathrooms, finishing basements and installing decks and fences. Other high-return projects include upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, and completing energy-saving renovations. Homeowners should remember that buyer preferences vary from market to market, so it’s best not to overspend on a project that might not appeal to future buyers. If you do decide to go big, be sure that the addition or feature does not significantly detract from the rest of your house and neighborhood.