As if awakening from hibernation, homeowners have begun to spend more on remodeling and renovation after years of holding off on most major projects. Spooked by the recession, many consumers tightened their belts, deciding the time wasn’t right for an addition or a major update unless the work was urgently needed. Even when conditions began to improve, some homeowners were uncertain whether the recovery would last and remained reluctant to proceed. But within the past 18 months, the economy has been recovering, and homeowners have decided they’ve waited long enough. Rising home values and low interest loans for home improvements have helped fuel this resurgence of activity.
Interest in home improvements is shared by all age groups. At times when interest in remodeling is strong—not depressed by the economy—up to half of all homeowners invest in some type of project each year. And they share the same goals: improving the look, feel, and design of their home and enhancing its functionality.
When homeowners are ready to commit to a project, the part of the house most likely to get a makeover is the kitchen. Not far behind in popularity are the bathroom (guest bath or master bath) and the living room. Kitchens are at the top of the list because families gather at the hearth most frequently and because technological advancements aren’t just limited to mobile phones and tablets; they also make their way into everyday appliances. Consumers are eager to upgrade to “smart” kitchens featuring the newest trends in refrigerators, ranges, and ovens. For some people, though, a fresh splash of color or new countertops may be all they want for the moment, or the first step in a more extensive remodeling project.
In some market segments, homeowners are keen on automation. Lighting control systems are a big draw, with the keypad of a phone or tablet replacing a confusing, unsightly cluster of switches on the wall. Some of these systems can also be linked with the audio-video components, and similar technology is also being used to manage alarm systems, heating and air conditioning, and water and sewer systems around the house.
Homeowners are also interested in remodeling to make their homes more “green,” upgrading their heating and air systems, improving energy efficiency, and addressing sustainability.
Demographics affect remodeling, and homeowners over 50 are pursuing ways to update their homes with features such as wider doors that could accommodate a wheelchair. Applying the concept of “universal design,” which seeks to make houses safe and accessible for everyone, they’re also installing curbless showers and grab bars that are attractive as well as functional, or adding blocking between the studs so that the bars could be installed later.
This is a good year to take a look at your home and consider an update.
Author: Judy Mozen, CR, GCP
President Handcrafted Homes, Inc.
Note: Judy Mozen, CR, GCP is the current President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry
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