Home improvement is the repairing, renovating or modernizing of residential real property. It includes such activities as refinishing hardwood floors, installing energy-efficient appliances, adding insulation to the attic or remodeling the kitchen and baths. It also can include yard work, such as mowing the lawn or pulling weeds, and painting and staining the deck or fence. Home improvement can make a house more attractive and functional, or increase its value when it is time to sell.
It can be difficult to know what projects will add the most value and which are over-priced or simply unnecessary. A few basic steps can help you make smart choices about home improvements that will maximize your investment and keep you out of debt.
A good rule of thumb is that if the project will save you money immediately or prevent damage in the future, it should be near the top of your to-do list. On the other hand, if you’re not likely to enjoy the results of the project or have the skills required to do it yourself, you may be better off leaving it to a professional.
In our most recent NerdWallet survey, about three in five homeowners say they’re able to pay for the majority of home repairs and improvements without running up credit card bills or raiding savings. That’s up from 69% in 2018. And more people now report being able to avoid paying for labor by using online aggregators that bundle service offers and serve as an intermediary agency between consumers and contractors.
NerdWallet surveyed 1,500 homeowners nationwide to learn how they’re handling home improvement projects during the pandemic and what improvements they plan to make in 2023. The results show that while more homeowners are hiring contractors, many are being cautious about the safety of having them in their homes. In fact, more than half of respondents tell us they wouldn’t allow home repair and improvement professionals to enter their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, which is up from 3 in 5 who said this in our September survey.
Even so, the number of people constructing decks and building fences has tripled since March and there have been increases in landscaping and water well installation as well. These types of improvements aren’t as costly as a new kitchen or master suite, but they can have big returns for homeowners.