Home Improvement 101

Home improvement is the repair, maintenance or restoration of residential real property. This can include interior and exterior work such as painting, shingling, repairing or replacing roofs, paving driveways, installing fences and remodeling kitchens or bathrooms. Home improvements can also be made to increase the efficiency of a home, such as putting in new insulation or improving the energy supply by adding solar panels.

Taking on a home improvement project can be fun and exciting, but it’s important to know which renovations will add value to your house and which ones are best left alone. You’ll also want to avoid going into debt, which can be expensive and difficult to get out of.

According to the American Housing Survey, people are spending more on home improvement projects than ever before. The majority of these projects are paid for with cash from savings, but the survey also reports a surge in people relying on things like credit cards, home equity loans and contractor-arranged financing to fund large renovations.

The biggest mistakes homeowners make when undertaking a home improvement project are overspending and choosing luxury options that won’t pay off when it comes time to sell. Purchasing high-end fixtures, for example, can make your home stand out from the rest—in a bad way. Instead, focus on projects that will appeal to a wide range of potential buyers and serve your family’s needs. If you’re unsure which upgrades will pay off, talk to a local real estate agent about what renovations will bring the best return.