What is an Improvement?
An improvement is a positive alteration to a home or its land. It can be an upgraded kitchen, a new bathroom, a renovated basement and other obvious structural changes. A new roof or fresh interior or exterior paint can be an improvement, as can updated electrical and plumbing systems.
Think, too, in terms of what stays with a house when you buy/sell it – lighting fixtures, window treatments, flooring. Updating all of these can be viewed as improvements from a buyer’s perspective.
Amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs, brick vs. asphalt driveways, sunrooms, and enclosed porches are other possible, positive additions to a home.
Additional structures like sheds or guest houses or garage apartments can constitute improvements, as well.
Landscaping is another strong way to make improvements to a home. Well-designed trees, shrubs, flowers, walkways, fences and yards can make a huge difference in a home’s curb appeal. (You’ve probably noticed that homes with stately, mature trees tend to have more value than homes with no trees or very young ones.)
If you’re considering an improvement to your home or land, be sure your local zoning code allows for the changes you want to make. In some areas, a rental apartment over your garage or in your basement may not be allowed. A fence may only be allowed to be a certain height or constructed out of specific material. (Some areas, for instance, don’t allow chain-link fences in the front yards of residential areas.) Your lot’s setback requirements may mean you can’t extend your family room as far into your back yard as you’d hoped. Also, know that permits are often required before you (or a contractor) can make many improvements on your home.