Home Improvement Trends for 2011

Home improvement is a big part of homeownership, and many Americans are spending money to improve their living spaces. This year, more people are focusing on remodeling and renovating their existing homes rather than trading up to a new property. Despite high material costs, homeowners are committing to projects like kitchen and bathroom renovations. Others plan to hire a pro to spruce up electrical wiring or cabinets. But it’s important to consider how your upgrades will impact resale value and if they can be easily undone or replaced before selling.

Fortunately, home improvement experts offer some insight into which projects will increase resale value and which ones are better off being left on the drawing board. In general, the more customized a project is to the current owner’s tastes, the less it will add value. So don’t go overboard on built-in electronics or in-house theaters, for example. But don’t be afraid to invest in energy-saving improvements like replacing old windows or installing solar panels.

The categories of home improvements surging the most this year include deck construction and building fences, both of which are up almost threefold from last year. Experts say this is because these updates save money on utility bills, and are particularly appealing during a time of higher inflation.

Other hot home improvement trends are painting and landscaping. But before you get started, it’s a good idea to talk with a realtor or interior designer who can help you determine what will best meet your needs. They typically charge an hourly fee, and can give you a ton of ideas that will make your house more functional and attractive, he says.

Choosing the right financing is also important, especially since credit card interest rates are high, and outstanding debt can quickly devastate your credit score. A personal loan may be a more suitable option for some home improvement projects, since it has lower interest rates and doesn’t require a down payment.

In addition to making sure you’re choosing the right projects, it’s also important to budget carefully. Having a clear understanding of how much each project will cost, and how long it will take to complete, will help you stay on track with your home improvement goals.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency fund in place to cover any unexpected expenses. This way, you can avoid overextending yourself financially and still be able to finish your project on time. This will also help reduce stress during your home renovation, and ensure that all projects are completed professionally and on schedule.