Each year New York residents and property owners spend over a billion dollars on home improvements, from the simple remodeling of a bathroom or kitchen to a million dollar “gut” rehabilitation. This work, done by both professional and non-professional contractors and by the owner himself, brings pride and vitality to our neighborhoods and communities. But there are some very important things every homeowner and property owner should know before starting any home improvement project. This pamphlet is intended to help you avoid costly mistakes and get the best value for your money.
A good beginning is to consult your local Building Inspector or Code Enforcement Officer to determine what permits are required for the type of work you wish to have done, and to be certain that all state and local requirements are met. It is also wise to get references from friends and neighbors, and to check the contractor’s license before hiring him or her. It is a Class A misdemeanor in many towns and counties to undertake home improvement work without the necessary licenses. You may be subject to criminal and civil penalties for doing so.
When you start planning your home improvement, it is a good idea to develop a budget and stick to it. Too often homeowners become emotionally involved with their projects and overspend. You should also remember that the cost of some projects will not be fully recouped in the event you decide to sell your home.
The most popular house renovations are sparkling bathroom makeovers, followed by kitchen upgrades, according to a survey conducted by the Contractor Growth Network. But some types of home improvements have very low return on investment values, including basement and garage remodels, a study by Zonda Media found.
Other common improvements include replacing windows, adding solar heating and water systems, installing security equipment, insulation installation and upgrading central heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. A well-planned and executed home improvement project can improve your quality of life, add to the beauty and value of your home, and save you money in energy costs.
One big mistake that is made in renovating a home is improving it well above the average for neighboring homes. Neighborhoods usually reflect the tastes and price ranges of local buyers, so you will probably lose money on your investment if you make improvements that do not appeal to the majority of potential homebuyers in your area.
When choosing materials for a home improvement project, it is important to balance function with style. Choosing high-end options for cabinets, floors and other items can add to the cost of a renovation, but they may not pay off if you do not plan to stay in your home long enough to recoup the expense. For this reason, it is wise to select midrange fixtures and finishes that will provide a pleasing appearance and still be within your budget. Also, be sure to buy durable products that will stand up to the test of time and frequent use.