While “home improvement” often refers to building projects that alter the structure of an existing home, it can also include improvements to lawns, gardens, and outdoor structures, such as gazebos and garages. It also encompasses maintenance, repair and general servicing tasks.
Maintenance projects can include:
Additional living space may be added by:
Homeowners may reduce utility costs with:
Emergency preparedness safety measures such as:
Typically, there are three alternative approaches to managing a home improvement project: hiring a general contractor, directly hiring specialized contractors, or doing the work oneself.
A general contractor oversees a home improvement project that involves multiple trades. A general contractor acts as project manager, providing access to the site, removing debris, coordinating work schedules, and performing some aspects of the work.
Home owners can also bypass the general contractor, and hire tradesmen themselves, including plumbers, electricians and roofers.
Another strategy is to “do it yourself” (DIY). There are many retailers that specialize in selling materials and tools for DIY home improvement. These stores host classes and carry numerous books to teach customers how to do the work themselves. DIY websites also provide information, in the form of how-to videos, articles and step-by-step instructions.
Marketplace conditions that can motivate DIY home improvement include (1) the economic benefits of DIY, (2) a perceived lack of goods and service quality, and (3) the limited availability of desired goods and services. As a homeowner looking to sell, making the correct home improvements may in some cases help the sale of a home.
Home or residential renovation is an almost $300 billion industry in the United States, and a $48 billion industry in Canada. The average cost per project is $3,000 in the United States and $11,000–15,000 in Canada.
Professional home improvement is ancient and goes back to the beginning of recorded civilization. One example is Sergius Orata, who in the 1st century B.C. is said by the writer Vitruvius (in his famous book De architectura) to have invented the hypocaust. The hypocaust is an underfloor heating system that was used throughout the Roman empire in villas of the wealthy. He is said to have become wealthy himself by buying villas at a low price, adding spas and his newly invented hypocaust, and reselling them at higher prices.
There are several types of companies that contribute to the booming renovation industry. Supply businesses such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards and Rona Lansing provide all the materials and tools necessary to facilitate home renovations. Many online companies and home improvement websites such as Porch and Houzz offer tips, guidelines and trends to give homeowners ideas for design and décor.
Playing a critical role are the professional associations created to represent the architects, architectural technologists, interior designers and skilled trades that provide specialized services to homeowners. These associations provide credibility, trade guidelines, and useful information to help homeowners learn more about the trades they are about to hire.
Perhaps the most important or visible professionals in the renovation industry are renovation contractors or skilled trades. These are the builders that have specialized credentials, licensing and experience to perform renovation services in specific municipalities.
While there is a fairly large ‘grey market’ of unlicensed companies, there are those that have membership in a reputable association and/or are accredited by a professional organization. Homeowners are recommended to perform checks such as verifying license and insurance and checking business references prior to hiring a contractor to work on their house.
*Article above originally from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_improvement