Home improvement, or renovation, involves making changes to the interior and exterior of your home. These projects can make your home more comfortable, improve its appearance and increase its value if you decide to sell it. However, not all home improvements are created equal. It’s important to plan your project carefully and understand how much a particular upgrade will add to the overall cost of the home, as well as its impact on your daily life.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been in the market for years, you may find yourself wanting to improve your living space or do some basic maintenance. But before you start tearing down walls or putting up fencing, it’s important to understand how much value these projects will add to your home and how difficult they may be for potential buyers to maintain.
According to the most recent Remodeling Impact Report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, spending on home improvements is surging again, with several categories showing a double-digit growth since last year. One of the biggest increases is in landscaping. “People are hiring landscapers more than ever,” says Mark Anderson, vice president of research at the National Association of Landscape Professionals. The other big area is deck construction, which is up 275% year-over-year, and fence construction, which is up 144%.
These are the kinds of upgrades that could have a positive impact on resale, but they’re also relatively inexpensive to make. Other low-effort but high-impact upgrades include re-grouting tile and painting your house.
Before a renovation starts, it’s smart to take before and after pictures of the room you want to change. This will help you visualize your progress, help you choose colors and paints, and act as a guide if you have to return something that doesn’t work in the end. And always get a written contract with your contractor, which must include their name, address and MHIC license number preprinted, before any money is exchanged or work begins.
If you’re thinking about adding a hot tub or fountain to your backyard, be sure to talk it over with a real estate agent. If your upgrades are too far out of line with the neighborhood, you’ll end up with a yard that looks a little silly — and could turn off buyers who are looking for a more modest home.
Don’t let the idea of a major home improvement project scare you off, however. A master suite, a new kitchen or a finished basement can all add significant value to your property. But before you spend thousands, be sure to talk it over with resale experts and think about how much time and money you’ll need to invest in ongoing maintenance. And if you’re thinking about taking out a loan, be sure to keep your emergency fund in good shape. It’s better to save up cash for these sorts of expenses than to go into debt and spend even more in interest.