Spokane Journal of Business

Residential remodel activity, interest rising, study finds

Improving the look, feel of living space remains key driver for projects

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Significantly more U.S. homeowners are moving forward with renovation projects compared with this time last year, a new study has found.

Fifty-three percent of the homeowners surveyed in the second annual Houzz & Home survey said they also believe now is a good time to remodel, and 58 percent of those planning projects in the next two years said will hire professional help.

The study, which garnered more than 100,000 responses, also found that three-quarters of homeowners believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Together with a recent U.S. Commerce Department report showing the rate of single-family home construction at its highest level in 4 1/2 years, the results of the Houzz study point to a strengthening economy and housing and renovation market, researchers said.

The 2013 Houzz & Home survey is touted to be the largest survey of remodeling and decorating activity ever conducted, covering historical and planned projects, the motivations behind the projects, and the impact of the economy on homebuilding, renovation, and decorating plans among Houzz website users across the United States and around the world. The study yielded detailed data at the national, regional, and metropolitan area levels, which Houzz said it used to examine regional differences in priorities and spending.

The number of participating homeowners who said they will delay their projects because of the economy has dropped to 45 percent from 52 percent last year. Also, the survey indicated that homeowners are more likely to cut back in other areas, such as vacations and other big ticket purchases, rather than delay or decrease budgets for their home plans.

While improving the look and feel of their living space is still the key driver for recently completed projects, at 83 percent, homeowners who said they were remodeling to increase their home value increased to 54 percent, up from 47 percent in 2012.

"We've collected an unprecedented volume of data from the community, and we are pleased to share the synthesis and findings with everyone looking to renovate or decorate their home," said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz.

Bathrooms and kitchens topped 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.

In terms of dollars spent, kitchens command the lion's share. During the last five years, nearly four in 10 home-improvement dollars have gone into kitchens, and survey data indicates future spending is likely to follow the same trend.

During the last five years, homeowners on average spent $28,030 to remodel their kitchens, but spending varies widely at different budget levels. Homeowners spent an average of $54,942 nationwide for a high-end kitchen, $22,390 for a mid-range kitchen, and $7,133 for a lower-budget kitchen.

The study also found that homeowners renovating at the higher-end were more likely to go over budget than those doing more modest renovations, though a significant number reported going over budget at all project levels. Fifty-six percent of those doing a high-end renovation, 42 percent of those who did a mid-range renovation, and 31 percent of those whose renovation was lower-budget said they spent more than expected on their projects.

The following are among other key survey findings:

•Spending more time in a room doesn't necessarily correlate with decorating dollars. Homeowners report spending the most time in their family/TV rooms, but not the most money there. Nobody was willing to admit to spending significant time in their bathroom, but apparently the time we do spend there is worth significant investment. The percentage of money spent on kitchens and bathrooms far exceeds the percentage of time spent in these spaces.

•Fifty-eight percent of the homeowners surveyed who are planning to complete a project in the next two years said they will hire a general contractor, and roughly a third said they will hire a kitchen/bath or carpet/flooring professional. Twenty-three percent said they plan to hire architects, and 22 percent said they plan to hire interior designers.

•As for hiring such professionals, 67 percent of homeowners surveyed rated a "personality I can work with" as a 5 (very important) on a 5-point scale.

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