Home Improvement and the Pandemic

Home improvement is the renovation, repair or decoration of the interior or exterior of a home. This can include changes to structures such as the roof, walls, windows and doors, or improvements to landscaping, plumbing and electrical systems. Home improvements can be done by a homeowner or by professionals. The term can also refer to the process of buying and installing products to enhance the functionality or beauty of a home, such as new flooring, cabinets or appliances.

Some homeowners think of home improvement as a way to increase the value of their house. However, not all improvements will result in a profit or recoup the cost of the project. Many homeowners who have undertaken large projects report having to sacrifice other expenses or even tap into their emergency savings to complete the work. A good rule of thumb is to budget for a 20% contingency.

The pandemic has caused some homeowners to delay remodeling projects or at least slow down the work. This has been reflected in the retail sales of major home improvement chains, with Lowe’s reporting this week that customers are putting a pause on plans to turn tubs into showers and instead opting for cheaper do-it-yourself fixes. Home Depot’s latest quarterly results were similarly disappointing.

A big reason behind the slower pace of home improvement is that people are spending more time at home as a result of pandemic-related social distancing. This has meant that homeowners haven’t needed to hire contractors as often during the past few months. But when they do, it is important to find the right contractor to do the job. While there is a large ‘grey market’ of unlicensed contractors, homeowners can protect themselves by performing due diligence and hiring reputable companies that are accredited or members of a trade association.

The most popular home improvement projects are upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms, followed by painting or redecorating. While these projects add the most value to a home, it is important for homeowners to consider their own needs and wants when choosing which ones to undertake. A kitchen remodel, for example, can take weeks or even months to complete, so homeowners should carefully weigh the costs and benefits before making any decisions.

Despite the slower pace of home improvement, most homeowners are still planning to make some changes. According to the NerdWallet survey, about 40% of those considering a project plan on updating their light fixtures or painting rooms. But about half are thinking bigger, with some considering adding a room or renovating the kitchen. Those with larger projects in mind say that they are most interested in increasing the comfort of their home and in feeling satisfied with it.