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Home Improvement Guide 2007
First things first
Before launching into any home improvement project you should carefully consider your motivations and goals.
First things first
5 most popular home improvement projects

A picture-perfect house on the outside. Who wouldn't like coming home to that?

But when it comes to home improvement efforts and dollars, it makes sense that most of us are putting them into the part of our homes we see the most: the inside.

"It's natural to think about having a nice bathroom that you use every day instead of how nice new siding would be," says Dean Bennett, president of a Colorado-based design and construction firm. He estimates that more than half of homeowners "undertake remodeling projects with the key purpose of making their homes more livable."

Gregg Hicks, director of marketing for Reliableremodeler.com, puts it this way: "Having a new kitchen or bathroom gives homeowners a greater feeling of satisfaction because of the new space they have to enjoy. A siding project, while it may be a good investment, simply does not provide a homeowner with the same feeling of satisfaction."

Perhaps that's why people -- provided they want to stay put in their homes -- are less inclined to check and follow lists of improvement projects that offer the best return on investment and more likely to open their wallets in search of what makes them happy.

A survey of more than 2,050 homeowners looking to hire a contractor -- conducted in 2006 by Renovation Experts, a network of more than 3,000 remodeling contractors -- revealed that nearly half intended to undertake an improvement project before the holiday season.

5 most popular projects
Bathroom remodeling16 percent
Kitchen remodeling7 percent
Remodeling and room additions7 percent
Floor coverings 6 percent
Painting and wall covering5 percent

Bennett notes another reason for the items cited to make such a list -- they are things that go in and out of style most quickly. "People will fix up the things that bother them the most," he says.

The survey results are consistent with other research. Reliableremodeler.com's data of the top requested services for the last six months include each of the above as part of the top 11 most requested. Window installation was another popular project that boosts quality of life on the inside of a home.

A 2006 survey of 5,000 homeowners conducted by Dan Fritschen, author of "Remodel or Move?" and founder of the Web site by the same name, delved further to learn what potential home remodelers were seeking. Half of the additions planned were for extra living space, such as dens and bedrooms. And 57 percent planned to add more bathrooms.

James Carey, who has a weekly radio program and newspaper column called "On the House" along with his brother Morris, says the above items "have been high on the list of popular remodeling projects for many years. They continue to be the most popular because they have the greatest impact on both the appearance and comfort of a home," he explains, adding that it's typically about "what most appeals to them and what their pocketbooks will allow."

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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