Home improvement, home renovation or remodeling is the process of renovating or making additions to one's home. Building materials and hardware for home improvement projects are typically purchased at home improvement stores.
- 1 Types of home improvement
- 2 Professional versus do-it-yourself
- 3 Home improvement industry
- 4 In popular culture
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
Types of home improvement
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. Home improvement projects generally have one or more of the following goals:
- Upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
- Upgrading rooms with luxuries, such as adding gourmet features to a kitchen or a hot tub spa to a bathroom.
- Increasing the capacity of plumbing and electrical systems.
- Waterproofing basements.
- Soundproofing rooms, especially bedrooms and baths.
Maintenance and repair
Maintenance projects can include:
- Roof tear-off and replacement.
- Concrete and masonry repairs to the foundation and chimney.
- Repainting rooms, walls or fences
- Repairing plumbing and electrical systems.
Additional living space may be added by:
- Turning marginal areas into livable spaces such as turning basements into recrooms, home theaters, or home offices – or attics into spare bedrooms.
- Extending one's house with rooms added to the side of one's home or, sometimes, extra levels to the original roof.
Homeowners may reduce utility costs with:
- Energy-efficient thermal insulation, replacement windows, and lighting.
- Renewable energy with biomass pellet stoves, wood-burning stoves, solar panels, wind turbines, programmable thermostats, and geothermal exchange heat pumps (see autonomous building).
Safety and preparedness
Emergency preparedness safety measures such as:
- Home fire and burglar alarm systems.
- Fire sprinkler systems to protect homes from fires.
- Security doors, windows, and shutters.
- Storm cellars as protection from tornadoes and hurricanes.
- Bomb shelters especially during the 1950s as protection from nuclear war.
- Backup generators for providing power during power outages.
Professional versus do-it-yourself
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.
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 improvement industry
Home or residential renovation is an almost $300 billion industry in the United States, and a $48 billion industry in Canada.[full citation needed] The average cost per project is $3,000 in the United States and $11,000–15,000 in Canada.[full citation needed]
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.
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry
- Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario
- The American Institute of Architects
- American Society of Interior Designers
- International Interior Design Association
- National Kitchen & Bath Association
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.
Condominium remodeling requires its own specific guidelines which are usually more strict than the Homeowner's Association rules. Condo owners must be sure that their remodeling plans do not compromise the structural integrity of the building, and the outside appearance must remain in sync with the rest of the condominium. All changes must be approved by a building manager.
In popular culture
- "Kitchen Remodel: 101 Stunning Ideas for Your Kitchen Design". Decoist Magazine. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- Use a Programmable Thermostat, Common Sense, to Reduce Energy Bills, Brett Freeman, oldhouseweb.com
- Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2007
- Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Richard Harris, Building a Market: The Rise of the Home Improvement Industry, 1914-1960. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
- Michael Litchfield, Renovation. Taunton Press, 2005.