Money Talks, So Should You

Renovators are rolling up their sleeves

A survey finds remodeling is back in style — especially for bathrooms and kitchens.

Liza Hausman
by Liza Hausman, MainStreet contributor (@lhaus)

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The U.S. renovation market is on the rebound, according to a recent Houzz survey that found significantly more homeowners moving forward with renovation projects compared with this time last year.

Fifty-three percent of homeowners believe now is a good time to remodel, and the number of homeowners who will delay their projects because of the economy has dropped to 45 percent from 52 percent last year. Another piece of good news for the renovation market is that only 11 percent of respondents reported they would need to take out a line of credit to pay for their remodel.

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A majority of homeowners (62 percent) also said they’d be willing to cut back in other areas, such as vacations and other big-ticket purchases, rather than delay or decrease budgets for their home plans.

Increased confidence in housing
Confidence goes beyond renovation, with the Houzz survey finding that three-quarters of U.S. homeowners believe now is a good time to buy, particularly in the Midwestern and Western regions of the country.

Looking at individual markets, Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; and Milwaukee have the highest confidence in the housing market, with 81 percent of homeowners agreeing now is a good time to buy. Jackson, Miss., homeowners had the lowest confidence level among all U.S. cities, though a majority (63 percent) still believe now is a good time to buy a home.

While improving the look and feel of a space was the key driver for recently completed projects again this year (83 percent), the number of homeowners who remodeled to increase their home value jumped to 54 percent from 47 percent last year, another sign of increasing confidence in the housing market.

Where are remodeling dollars going?
Bathrooms and kitchens top America’s renovation project list again this year, with 28 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel or addition and 23 percent planning a kitchen remodel or addition in the next two years. Kitchens commanded the lion’s share of renovation dollars, with nearly four in 10 home improvement dollars going into remodeling these rooms. Future spending is likely to follow the trend.

On average, U.S. homeowners spent $28,030 to remodel their kitchens over the past five years, with spend varying widely at different budget levels. Nationwide, the average cost for a high-end kitchen was $54,942, dropping to $22,390 for a midrange kitchen and to $7,133 for a lower-budget kitchen.

Regionally, homeowners in the Northeast spent the most, at $35,550, and those in the South spent the least, or $23,779. Spend also varied widely by market, with high-end kitchens in Boston averaging $77,081, while a high-end kitchen in Little Rock, Ark., averaged $31,818. Homeowners in Santa Barbara, Calif., spent an average of $36,211 for a midrange kitchen, while those in Omaha, Neb., spent an average of $14,619. 

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Positive outlook for home pros
Fifty-eight percent of homeowners planning projects in the next two years will hire professional help. General contractors are the most in-demand professionals, with 58 percent of renovating homeowners planning to hire one for their project, followed by kitchen/bath professionals and carpet/flooring pros at 35 percent. Twenty-one percent of homeowners are looking for a landscape architect or designer, followed by architects and interior designers, each at 20 percent.

The Houzz survey also found that homeowners expect to do an enormous amount of due diligence before hiring a professional — and they are doing so as much as a year before starting a project. When hiring professional help, 87 percent of homeowners look at the quality of ratings and reviews as well as a professional’s expertise in their field. More than two-thirds also cited “a personality I can work with” as an important factor when it comes to hiring a professional for their project. 

Homeowners aren’t just getting smarter about finding the right professional — the survey found that two-thirds of homeowners are relying on online sources to find the products and materials that meet their criteria and the information that will help them effectively manage their renovation projects from start to finish.

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Houzz is an online platform for home remodeling and design. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals. Houzz has the largest residential design database in the world and a community powered by social media tools.