Home improvement is a popular pastime for homeowners. Some projects, such as adding an extra bedroom or bathroom, are meant to boost a house’s resale value, while others may just be a matter of taste or convenience.
After World War II, returning veterans and the expanding culture of do-it-yourself television helped to fuel a boom in home improvements. Government mortgage insurance programs encouraged home buying and highway construction, and manufacturers promoted products that allowed homeowners to modernize their homes for less. Moreover, the popularity of shows such as Bob Vila’s This Old House fueled a fascination with “old” or Victorian era homes. Historian Carolyn Goldstein argues that such a fascination contributed to the growth of hobby stores, as well as to a decline in domestic craftsman skills and an increase in manufactured or “faux” products.
Some improvements, such as replacing outdated fixtures or painting, will cost little but can make a big difference in a home’s appearance. However, some projects, such as installing a new shower area or replacing old flooring, will require a larger investment and may not pay off when it’s time to sell.
Choosing the right contractor is vital to any home improvement project. In general, contractors should be licensed, insured and bonded in the counties where they work. They should also provide a contract with an estimated timeline for work, a payment schedule and as many specifics as possible about the project, such as brands or types of materials.