Home improvement is the renovation, repair, and maintenance of residential real property. The term covers a wide range of projects, including the construction and installation of fences, porches, garages, attics, basements, water heaters and air conditioners, roofs, and the painting and decorating of rooms. It also encompasses landscaping work, such as the planting of trees and shrubs, and the repair and maintenance of swimming pools, lawns, patios, and driveways.

People renovate their homes for many reasons, such as increasing the value of their house or making it more comfortable for themselves and their families. However, many homeowners jump into a project without having a budget or plan in place. This is a common mistake that can lead to overspending and even debt. Before starting a home improvement project, it is important to understand the basics of how to choose materials and what will add to the value of your house.

The home improvement industry saw a boom in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many Americans remained confined to their houses during the lockdown, they took advantage of this opportunity to make home improvements. However, the recent drop in home sales may signal that this home improvement boom is ending.

One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make is improving their home beyond what other homes in their area are selling for. This is a sure way to turn off potential buyers and reduce the chances of recouping the cost of the improvements.

Another big mistake is choosing materials that are too expensive. Often, these high-end options are not appreciated by the average buyer and may detract from the overall look and feel of the house. Instead, it is best to stick with more traditional, low-cost options that will appeal to the majority of homebuyers.

A final point to keep in mind is that the return on investment that home improvements offer can vary widely. Some will recoup the costs of the project and even earn a profit, while others will not. Real estate agents can help homeowners determine the likelihood of an improvement adding value to their home.

Homeowners should always work with a licensed, reputable contractor for any home improvement projects. Maryland’s Home Improvement Law requires that a contract be written and signed by both parties before the work begins or any money is paid. The contract should include a description of the work to be performed, a payment schedule and any material specifications, such as brands or types.

The contractor must also provide the name, address, and MHIC license number of the business before beginning any work. It is also recommended that the contract include a mandatory arbitration clause and a disclosure of any fees that will be charged for the arbitration. Additionally, the contract should state that any claim against the MHIC Guaranty Fund will be stayed until completion of the arbitration proceeding. Additionally, the contract must contain a statement that the arbitration will take place in a county within the State of Maryland.