Home renovation began in earnest in 2020, and that trend is expected to continue for the near future. Those who were fortunate enough to continue their jobs through the pandemic quickly became tired of the same rooms. Houses became claustrophobic. Renovations kept the skilled trades busy, and we were all happy to see that. Where did people spend their home improvement resources?

Throughout the past year and moving forward, the most popular renovation projects are:

Entertainment/rec rooms – Out of necessity, things like gym memberships and movie-going were out of the question in 2020. We had to do these things at home as best we could. Homeowners will continue to turn basements into home theaters, extra bedrooms into gaming or hobby rooms, and sections of the garage into climate-controlled workout areas.

Home offices – The huge increase in work-from-home arrangements won’t completely reverse once the pandemic subsides. Home office workers will be setting up for the long term and they won’t be content continuing to work from a kitchen table or the corner of a den. Guest rooms will double as, or be replaced by, home offices to allow for privacy and interruption-free work time. Attics, basements, and even outdoor sheds will be wired, reinforced, and decked out for a comfortable “office away from the office.”

Bedroom suites – They used to be called a “In-Law Suites,” but whether they’re for a family member or to make their homes more attractive for resale or short- or long-term rental, many homeowners are creating another bedroom/full bath combination in their homes by converting existing bedroom space or adding this space in their basements.

Outside living space – Decks and patios are terrific places to relax and a great way to expand living space. The trend these days, though, is to make these environments even more comfortable all year round by adding awnings or even enclosing them to create sunrooms.

Master baths – Master baths continue to become less utilitarian and more spa-like with large walk-in showers (multi-jet nozzles of course!), walk-in closets, dual sinks, and luxurious soaking tubs. Realtors say that master bathrooms are one of the most important elements in creating a first impression during showings.

Watch out!

With home renovation on the rise, it’s not surprising that the number of less than reputable, or just plain inexperienced, contractors is on the rise as well. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Get several quotes.
  • Don’t pay 100% upfront. No reputable tradesperson would insist on this arrangement.
  • Check out contractors that a neighbor or friend have used. if you see a contractor truck down the street, take the time to meet them and ask the homeowner if you can see their work or if they’re willing to talk about their project.
  • Check out the contractor online. Do they have a website that confirms they’re a local company? Are they a member of the local chamber of commerce or the local contractor’s organization? Google them and don’t forget to go to the third or fourth page of that search to see if there are any legitimate complaints that catch your attention.

Insurance issues related to renovation

If you’re using a contractor, don’t simply determine if they’re reputable, but confirm that they carry sufficient General Liability and Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance. And if you have the do-it-yourself renovation skill sets, talk to your insurer about whether your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the work you’re planning to tackle and if there are requirements or limitations you need to be aware of.

Finally, whether you go with the pros or DIY, your home improvements are undoubtedly going to increase the value of your home, so when you’re done, review your policy to see if you’ll need to add more coverage.

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