Do-It-Yourself Home Improvements Increase During COVID-19

Joe and Audra Essig working on their home improvement project
More and more homeowners are tackling home improvement projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 2020 — Home and garden centers, along with building materials suppliers and hardware stores, have seen a year-over-year sales increase of 22.6 percent, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report.

Home improvement stores are leading in all retail categories except for online purchases — a trend that began during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more homeowners tackled do-it-yourself projects.

Particularly surprising is the number of homeowners who start home improvement projects without creating a budget.

Modernize, a company that connects homeowners with contractors and other home services professionals, recently conducted a homeowner sentiment report. Data reflect 3,000 consumer and trade surveys taken in late 2019 and early 2020.

Results, which are based on survey responses from over 12,300 homeowners, show:

  • 79% of homeowners don’t budget for their project. This represents an increase from 75% in 2019
  • 89% of homeowners tackling a solar panel project reported having no upfront budget
  • 75% of homeowners said they would finance part of their project.
  • 30% of respondents said they would borrow the project’s entire cost — an increase from the 23% of homeowners who planned to finance their entire project amount in 2019. 

The Consumer Specialists and the Home Projects Council surveyed more than 600 homeowners and learned that 57 percent emphasized home improvement projects during the first three months of the pandemic.

On average, those homeowners spent $1,750 making home improvements, citing time as the primary reason driving their efforts.

Here are more results from the council’s survey:

  • The No. 1 reason homeowners tackled more projects during COVID-19 was because they “have more time” (66.9%)
  • Almost 50% of homeowners said having more time at home increased their awareness of problems that needed to be tackled
  • Landscaping made the biggest jump in homeowners’ interest from 2019 to 2020.

“Even with people at home more than usual, we were surprised at just how many ways COVID-19 has impacted home improvement activity,” said Fred Miller, president of Consumer Specialists.

“In terms of consumer attitudes and behavior, there has never been a single force that has so significantly shaped the home improvement market. Through this research, businesses involved in home improvement can better understand the current dynamic and make appropriate adjustments to success in this environment.”

In addition, the survey found that 63.5 percent of homeowners have used online tools as project resources, a 12 percent increase from 2019 results.

“Homeowners have turned to the internet for project ideas and instruction for years, but that seems to be amplified these days,” said Frank Owens, senior vice president at The Quikrete Companies and Home Projects Council member. “We’ve averaged about ten million views of our Quikrete how-to project videos in the past several months, which is about 2.5 times more than the same time last year.

“That’s a clear indication that homeowners are focused on outdoor projects like concrete patios and fire pits, so families unable to travel or take a vacation can get the most out of their backyard.”

Read the entire Consumer Specialists survey here.

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