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Pandemic Dampens Some Renovation Plans

Although the COVID-19 pandemic put a dent in consumers’ renovation projects, a survey by Houzz found more than half of homeowners with a renovation in progress when the pandemic was declared in mid-March continued with their project. Houzz surveyed nearly 1,000 homeowners in late April and found 52% were going ahead with planned renovations, while 47% were pausing renovations temporarily. Just 1% decided to cancel a project entirely.

“Personal health and safety, as well as that of the professionals working in their homes, were top considerations for homeowners, but less than half of those with unfinished projects put their project on hold,” according to Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “We’re also hearing from our pro community that certain projects are able to restart as shelter in place orders are becoming more relaxed and lifted completely in some areas.”

A larger report found that compared to earlier years, the renovation market was slowing slightly prior to the outbreak. Houzz’s “2020 Renovation Survey” queried more than 42,160 renovators between Jan. 2 and March 5, when the novel coronavirus was just beginning to spread around the U.S.

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“Following significant growth in home renovation activity over the past few years, we’re seeing the market settle somewhat in terms of scope and spend,” Sargsyan said in a statement announcing the results of the 2020 report.

The median spend for a project slipped from $15,000 in 2017 and 2018, to $13,000 in 2019. In Denver, renovators spent a median $11,125 on a project in 2019, down 26% from 2018.

The April survey provides some interesting context for Houzz’s annual report. Over a quarter of respondents were remodeling a kitchen, according to the 2020 report. The April survey found 52% of homeowners were spending more time in the kitchen while quarantined.

Home offices were the least popular upgrades in the 2020 report, Houzz found—just 10% of renovators chose to re-do a home office. However, in light of the pandemic, homeowners who were in the middle of an office upgrade were unlikely to halt the project. Seventy percent of homeowners with an office project in progress continued with it after the pandemic started, according to the April survey.

Guest bathrooms were the second most common renovation at 24%, the 2020 report found. One in five respondents were remodeling the master bath or the living room.

Sargsyan anticipates a spike in renovation activity once the pandemic is under control and paused projects are renewed. In fact, the April survey found 79% of homeowners are envisioning outdoor, bathroom and kitchen projects; of those, 90% plan to take action following the pandemic.

In the meantime, some homeowners are holding off on elective remodels to focus on maintenance and repairs, Sargsyan said. “Deferred maintenance will accrue during this period, setting the stage for a renewed burst of activity following the pandemic.”

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