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Home improvement projects popular during pandemic lockdowns

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Three-fourths (76%) of U.S. homeowners have embarked on at least one home improvement project during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Porch Research. Slightly more (78%) plan to undertake some sort of home improvement project during the next 12 months.

With COVID-19 outbreaks keeping scores of employees working from home (or furloughed or laid off), and learning from home, homeowners across generations have turned their attention to a wide assortment of upgrades both indoors and out.

Porch surveyed more than 1,000 homeowners in early July and found 82% of Millennials and Gen Z, 79% of Gen X, and 56% of Baby Boomers reported making at least one improvement to their home.

When asked what prompted them to undertake a project, the most common reason was finally having time:

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Exterior projects edged our interior renovations, 64% to 58%. “Introducing new home tech” was the project of choice for 44% of the survey respondents, followed by “making their home more eco-friendly,” favored by 34% of the participants.

Garden landscaping, repainting interiors, improving high-speed internet, fixing/adding a lawn, and installing security cameras were also popular improvements. Outdoor pools, a home office or a home gym were also listed as a completed or anticipated project.

Despite money being tight during the COVID-induced economic downturn, homeowners spent a median amount of $17,140 on improvements since the start of the pandemic. On average, homeowners reported five projects per household.

Asked how they financed their projects, 38% dipped into savings, 23% swiped a credit card and around 13% used their government stimulus check to cover the costs.

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For the millions who lost jobs or had hours or pay cut during the pandemic home improvement projects are not a priority. About half those who were surveyed told Porch inadequate funds kept them from making improvements to their homes.

Porch researchers said the statistics suggest homeowners want to ensure their homes can serve multiple purposes by acting as offices for their work, classrooms for their school-aged children, and fitness centers for their leisure.

Calling it an “interesting emerging trend” the data analysts noted more people are planning to make their home more environmentally friendly. Solar panels, smart lighting to lower electricity use, installing eco-friendly appliances, starting a compost heap and adding solar water heating were the top five “green intentions” projects. Overall, 40% of U.S. homeowners are planning to make their dwelling better for the environment.

Not surprisingly, Hardware Retailing reported home improvement stores experienced a 17% year-over-year increase in sales during June. The stay-at-home mandates contributed to spikes in sales of pools, playsets and outdoor furniture.

“For better or for worse, the COVID pandemic gave Americans time and opportunity to improve their homes to an extent few imagined,” Porch researchers stated in their report.

Porch is a Seattle-based real estate technology venture and home improvement marketplace. Having spent four years renovating its business, it recently announced plans to become publicly traded through a merger with PropTech Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company.

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