By Tracey Dowdy
If you’ve ever looked around your house and thought, “This space would be so much more functional without that wall,” or, “This tiny bedroom is perfect for my dream closet,” you’re not alone. Homeowners and landlords in the U.S. spent $424 billion on home improvements in 2017, according to Improving America’s Housing 2019, a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies analysis of government data. The survey draws from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, which measures the number of households planning home renovations and their associated costs. (American Housing Survey data for 2018 and 2019 isn’t yet available.)
America’s favorite renovations aren’t massive renovations like you see on shows like Fixer Upper, but minor improvements that make a big impact — like replacing floors or fixtures. These simple changes often boost the home’s resale value for those planning to flip or move on. There’s a lot to consider before tackling a home improvement project, and it’s wise to think through potential problems before you start.
These websites can help you get a better perspective on the scope of the project, how much it could cost, and what the finished product will look like.
Porch’s slogan is “Love your home. For moving and improving and everything in between.” From the home page, you can search for anything from contractors, plumbers, or a handyman to pool installation or carpet stretching by your zip code, get quotes from movers, and see popular projects in your area. That’s a particularly handy feature if you’re looking to see what others in your neighborhood with the same style home or floor plan have done. For jobs Porch doesn’t do, they’ll even get you quotes from independent professionals in the area.
Long before Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, there was Bob Vila’s This Old House. You can search for projects A – Z – well, A – Y – attics to yards, watch step by step instructional videos, be inspired by Project or Idea Houses, or become an Insider with access to commercial-free streaming of over 1,000 episodes, opportunities to meet the cast, participate in live online Q&As with TOH experts, and access special deals and discounts.
DIY Network is the home of “I don’t have the budget for a contractor and want to try it myself,” offering practical advice and helping you plan your projects by budget. Get your inspiration from TV shows, Editors Picks, or search the archives for specific projects.
From the network that introduced us all to shiplap, HGTV Remodels is perfect for figuring out what’s actually doable as opposed to the projects that will send you and your partner to couples therapy or bankruptcy court. With ideas ranging from how to update your fireplace or home technology to choosing a new addition’s foundation, it’s a one-stop-shop.
Houzz.com is your go-to for inspiration whether you’re contemplating big changes like a full kitchen remodel or little changes like deciding which paint color is best for your tiny powder room. With hundreds of photos and examples from other DIY-ers, you can see examples, shop for products, and contact local professionals who can help you get started and see you through to the end.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.