Consumer Project Planning in Home Improvement: 2Q 2021

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Each quar­ter since 2012, the Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute (HIRI) has sur­veyed approx­i­mate­ly 3,000 home­own­ers for its Home Improve­ment Project Intent Track­ing Sur­vey. The sur­vey asks home­own­ers which of 32 dif­fer­ent home improve­ment project areas (if any) they are plan­ning in the next three months. It also explores to what extent they agree with state­ments about their homes and home improve­ment. The goal of these sur­veys is to bet­ter under­stand con­sumer project sentiment.

The results from the second quarter of 2021 are in. Here are a few key findings:

Homeowners are still planning home improvement projects at high rates.

For two-plus years, more than sev­en in 10 home­own­ers have planned projects quar­ter­ly. Like­ly many exter­nal fac­tors play a role in the high num­ber of home­own­ers work­ing on their homes:

  • Sav­ings rates have skyrocketed.

  • Con­sumers are spend­ing much more time at home.

  • Low inter­est rates cre­ate eas­i­er access to funds.

  • Home­buy­ing is becom­ing more cost­ly and dif­fi­cult as demand out­paces supply.

Improvements to living spaces are the new center of home projects.

While projects like land­scap­ing and paint­ing remain pop­u­lar, they have seen a dip in recent quar­ters. Projects that focus more on liv­ing spaces have increased dra­mat­i­cal­ly over the last two months. These projects include bed­rooms, liv­ing rooms, dens and spe­cial­ty rooms, and out­door recre­ation, such as swim­ming pools.

Maintenance and repair remain the top motivators for projects.

Most project plan­ners tend to pri­or­i­tize imme­di­ate improve­ment needs, though an updat­ed look or more com­fort­able space is not far behind. With many hav­ing been at home much more over the last year, home­own­ers have shift­ed much of their focus and avail­able funds to upgrad­ing the spaces they see and live in every day.

A discrepancy exists between planned and completed DIY projects.

While most claim to have some affin­i­ty for DIY work, only slight­ly more than 53% of projects are actu­al­ly planned as DIY. Addi­tion­al­ly, DIY work for com­plet­ed projects has his­tor­i­cal­ly hov­ered around two-thirds. This indi­cates that projects planned to be done pro­fes­sion­al­ly often either end up being done DIY or do not get done at all.

DIY attitudes have a large impact on project planning.

DIY con­fi­dence spills over into how many projects home­own­ers plan to com­plete. Those who are more con­fi­dent in their DIY abil­i­ty are plan­ning more projects, even if they are plan­ning to have a pro com­plete the work.


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