Home improvement is a great way to add value to your home. While it can be expensive, it’s worth it in the long run if you plan well and make smart choices.
The Right Projects at the Right Price
There are several ways to approach your home improvement projects – a do-it-yourselfer, a professional or a combination of both. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional contractor, your goals should be the same: to make improvements that improve your home and increase its value while also making it more enjoyable to live in.
Keep in mind that some home improvement projects may actually hurt your resale value, so be sure to do them carefully. For example, if you want to turn your garage into a home recording studio, it’s unlikely that a potential buyer will be interested in paying extra for such a feature. Similarly, if you opt to install a high-end kitchen range or marble flooring in your bathroom, your home’s resale value is likely to be negatively affected.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Choosing a Contractor Without First Checking Their License and Insurance
A good rule of thumb is to never sign a contract with a contractor that you haven’t checked out in person. Maryland’s Home Improvement Law requires that all contracts for home improvement work be in writing and signed by both the consumer and the business before any work is performed or money is paid. This is especially important when a contractor is using subcontractors to do the work.
If a home improvement company is not licensed and insured in your state, they are not legitimate and can be prosecuted for fraud. If you suspect that a contractor is not properly licensed or insured, contact your local attorney general’s office. The Attorney General is authorized to file lawsuits against contractors who violate the law and can order them to compensate defrauded customers.
Don’t Make the Mistakes of Getting a Contractor with No Insurance or License
There is no shortage of home improvement companies that are not licensed or insured, and some have been known to use fraudulent written statements to get customers to sign contracts. In these cases, the Attorney General can issue a civil penalty of $100 to $500 plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Avoid the “Grey Market” of Unlicensed Contractors
A growing number of homeowners are opting to pay out-of-pocket for their home improvements, often because they have been unable to secure financing from banks or other lenders. This is because the average mortgage interest rate on home loans has been in a historical low for many years.
It is estimated that as many as 75% of all home repair and improvement projects in the United States are financed by loans from private sources such as homeowners’ associations, real estate agents or credit unions. These funds are typically drawn from homeowners’ equity, which means that they are not repaid by the homeowner until the home is sold or resold.