The Revival of Home Improvement During the Pandemic

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Home improvement is any renovation, repair or decoration of the interior or exterior of a house. This can include a wide variety of projects, from painting and staining woodwork to installing new lighting fixtures and appliances. The purpose of home improvement is to make a house more pleasant and functional. Many homeowners also do home improvements to increase the resale value of their homes. However, the return on investment (ROI) for most home improvement projects is less than 100%, and it may be difficult to recoup the entire cost of the project when selling the home.

A number of factors are driving the revival of home improvement. Among them are rock-bottom interest rates, which make borrowing money to pay for home improvements much cheaper than in recent years. And in unsettling times, improving one’s home can be a comforting activity that helps people feel more secure in their lives.

According to the American Housing Survey, which collects data from a sample of homeowner-occupied homes nationwide, 3 in 5 Americans have taken on some kind of home improvement project since the pandemic started. Many of these projects have been small—things like repainting or replacing light fixtures—but some have been more significant, such as adding a patio or building a fence.

When asked why they’re considering taking on a home improvement project, the most common reason is to make their homes more comfortable for themselves and their families. Only 1 in 10 say they’re looking to boost their home’s resale value, and fewer still say they’re making these projects out of financial necessity.

Homeowners are also increasingly willing to hire professionals to help with their projects. This reflects a desire to avoid putting themselves at risk during the pandemic by not handling dangerous tasks such as disinfecting their homes. Home Depot and Lowe’s have reported that a surge in remodeling activity has cooled down, but they continue to see brisk sales of tools and supplies for home improvement projects.

Although a lot of Americans are planning to do home improvement projects, only 42% say they’re able to easily afford the majority of them without tapping into savings or going into debt. This is a drop from the 52% who said the same in our last survey, and it suggests that some homeowners may be getting discouraged by the high costs of certain types of projects. This could lead to some projects being put off until later, when the economy improves and/or interest rates are lower. In addition, some improvements may not add much in terms of resale value, such as ones that are overly personalized or don’t match the style of other houses in the neighborhood. For these reasons, it’s important to plan carefully and weigh the pros and cons of each project before beginning work. However, the vast majority of home improvement projects have a positive impact on homeowners’ lives and experiences with their homes. Those who’ve renovated their kitchens, for example, report spending more time in their homes and enjoying them more after the work is completed.