Home improvement is a broad term that encompasses any renovation, remodeling or upgrade of an existing property. It is usually viewed as a way to increase the value of a property and make it more functional and attractive. It can also include any type of work that improves a home’s safety or security. Some examples of home improvement are replacing a kitchen sink, refinishing hardwood floors or installing a security system.

Homeowners spent $522 billion on home improvements last year, according to a new report from the Census Bureau. The figures are based on the American Housing Survey, which includes data from 115 million homeowner-occupied households.

Most homeowners embark on home improvement projects to improve their living spaces or to get the most out of their homes when they decide to sell them. However, it’s important to remember that not all home improvement projects will increase a home’s resale value or return on investment. Generally, any projects that are purely aesthetic and outside the norm for your neighborhood will not give you the best ROI.

It is also important to be realistic about your budget when planning your home improvement project. Many people get carried away when choosing materials for their renovation and end up overspending. This can lead to a financial disaster when the contractor runs into unexpected issues that need to be fixed before the project is complete.

A good way to keep your budget in check is to meet with a professional home improvement specialist before beginning any work. They can help you develop a plan that will maximize your return on investment while staying within your budget.

You should always hire a licensed, insured contractor for any home improvement work. In Maryland, it is against the law to contract with any business that does not have a valid license issued by the state. It is also a good idea to avoid any contractors who refuse to provide you with a written contract for home improvement work before starting the job. The contracts should have the contractor’s name, address and MHIC license number preprinted on them.

Despite the slow economy, many Americans are still committed to improving their homes. The most common home improvement projects are opening up walls, replacing the front door and redoing the bathroom or kitchen. Other popular projects are painting and putting up fences. Almost all of these projects are likely to improve the curb appeal of the house.

In addition to boosting the home’s value, these home improvement projects can also increase the homeowner’s enjoyment of the property. However, it is important to remember that your own comfort and the quality of life in the property should be a priority before making any changes that may affect how you live in the house. It is also a good idea to consult with a real estate agent about specific home improvement projects that will have the most impact on the resale value of your property.

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