Home improvement is any type of alteration, repair, modification or addition to a residential dwelling or to the land on which it sits. These projects can be very simple, such as painting or coating the outside of a house, or they may be complex, like adding an extra bedroom or bath. In general, these projects should make the home more functional or comfortable, and they can increase the value of a property.
In the past two years, homeowners have undertaken about a half-trillion dollars in home improvements. This surge started before most of us knew what the COVID-19 pandemic would bring, grew through lockdowns and ambitious stuck-at-home DIY projects and into a housing market that saw houses sell for a mint.
But if these homeowners are serious about increasing their homes’ value, they need to be careful about the projects they undertake. Few renovations or remodels fully recoup their costs. And that’s why it is important for any homeowner to consider their reasons and goals before diving into a home improvement project.
Then, they should carefully plan and budget for the work and choose projects that are likely to appeal to a broad range of prospective buyers. They should also settle on a financing strategy that is likely to allow them to complete the work without excessive sacrifice or putting themselves into debt. For example, in our NerdWallet survey, about 40% of those who took on a home improvement project over the past two years said they were able to pay for the majority of it without making sacrifices or tapping into or exhausting their emergency savings.