Home improvement is the process of improving or repairing the interior and/or exterior of a house. This can include remodeling or adding on to a home, such as installing new windows and doors, upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, painting, landscaping, paving driveways and walkways, and putting up a fence. Home improvement also includes making a home energy efficient by adding insulation or replacing old furnaces and air conditioning units.
Historically, men dominated DIY activity, but by the late 1990s, television programs like cable’s popular Trading Spaces had begun to blur the distinction between the masculine realm of carpentry work and the more feminine sphere of decorating and design. This democratization of DIY activity had significant implications for the economy and society, as it allowed women to gain a sense of accomplishment by tackling projects they previously would have left to the men in their lives.
Some home improvements, such as fixing a leaky roof or replacing worn out carpeting, are necessary to maintain the value of a home and avoid costly repairs in the future. Others may be done to increase the comfort of a living space by adding a second bathroom, renovating an outdated kitchen, or opening up walls to create a more open floor plan. However, some renovations don’t add enough value to offset the cost and could even detract from a home’s marketability.
Homeowners generally fund home improvement projects using a combination of cash from savings, cash-out refinancing or line of credit on a home equity loan, contractor arranged financing, and/or personal loans from friends and family. According to a survey, homeowners who want to remodel their homes in the next five years are most likely to choose projects that will improve energy efficiency (such as new windows and an upgraded HVAC system) and expand living space.