Home improvement is the process of enhancing the value, function and comfort of one’s living environment through changes to a house or property. Typically, homeowners undertake such projects to increase a home’s resale value or to keep up with the latest trends in design and style.
Popular projects include sparkling bathroom overhauls, adding a kitchen extension and renovating the basement. However, not every renovation will pay off when it’s time to sell. Homeowners can expect to get back just 60% of their money on average for a bathroom remodel and about 40% on a basement renovation, according to the Contractor Growth Network.
The term “home improvement” is also used to refer to a variety of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that homeowners can complete themselves rather than hiring professional contractors. The rise of DIY as a hobby and the popularity of shows such as Trading Spaces has blurred the distinction between what was traditionally considered male-dominated work, such as carpentry, and the more feminine realm of interior design and decorating.
In New York State, contractors performing home improvements must be licensed by the state Department of Taxation and Finance. All contracts for home improvement work should clearly spell out a payment schedule and be specific as to the types or brands of materials being used. It is also advisable to check that the contractor has liability and workers compensation insurance before any work begins. Moreover, under NY State law all contractors must provide a written contract which includes their name, address, license number and their MHIC License Number preprinted on it.