Home improvement refers to any work done to a dwelling house, including its accessories, for the purpose of increasing its utility, comfort or value. Home improvements may include repairs, alterations, remodeling, conversions, modernizations or additions. Home improvement work also includes the repair or replacement of exterior siding, roofing and doors.
The most valuable home improvements are those that increase a property’s energy efficiency and add storage. In a weak economy, these projects offer the greatest return on investment, especially if they can be completed with low-cost materials and labor.
According to Anderson, other popular home improvement projects this year that are surging in popularity due to rock-bottom interest rates are kitchen renovations; installing a new front door; and landscaping. He said that deck construction is up 275% and fence construction is up 144%.
Before hiring a contractor, homeowners should take steps to ensure that the company is licensed and insured. Homeowners should obtain a written contract before any work begins. The contract should have the contractor’s name, address and MHIC license number preprinted; a description of the work to be performed; a timeline for completion; a payment schedule and as many specifics about the project as possible, such as the types or brands of materials that will be used. The contract should not allow a deposit of more than 1/3 of the total contract amount and should withhold final payment until all work is completed, any required inspections and certificates of occupancy are issued and the contractor is paid in full.