Home Renovations Soar during COVID-19 Quarantine

We surveyed nearly 1,000 Americans about what housing projects they're tackling during the pandemic.

By Charlotte Spence

When shelter-in-place orders were first issued across the country to stop the spread of COVID-19, people found themselves at home with little to do but stare at their walls. Suddenly there was plenty of extra time — and in some cases, extra cash — to tackle those nagging home improvement projects.  

In response to this uptick in home improvement, we recently launched a survey to discover which renovation projects homeowners are prioritizing in quarantine. We surveyed 969 Americans to see if they received a $1,200 COVID-19 stimulus check and how they decided to use that money. According to our findings, 79.3% of people received a stimulus check, and a surprising amount decided to invest that money in DIY (do-it-yourself) and professional-hired home improvement projects. Read on to see what we found.

Main Findings

Unsurprisingly, 26% of DIY projects and 15% of professional-hired home projects during the shelter-in-place orders involved painting those walls that were being stared at all day. 

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. People spent an average of $1,580 on DIY and $1,607 on professional-hired home improvement projects or products during the pandemic closures. Nearly 80% of them used at least part of their $1,200 coronavirus stimulus check to fund their projects. 

On the flipside, among those who didn’t take on a home improvement project during COVID-19, nearly 40% said it was due to lack of money and another 30% said it was because they were fearful of being exposed to the virus.

It’s no shock  that people looked to Home Depot or Lowe’s for their DIY materials since they’re the two of the largest home improvement retailers in the United States.But, a solid three-quarters (75%) of respondents to our survey said they preferred to shop at Home Depot compared to Lowe’s.

Not all projects were DIY jobs, either. Some people preferred hiring a contractor or professional for jobs like painting, flooring installation, and kitchen renovations.

Speaking of kitchen renos, we found that kitchen cabinets, countertops, and backsplash projects were second highest (17.55%) on the list for both DIY-’ers and those who called on professionals. Appliance replacement was also popular. According to the International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey, 60% of participants say they are cooking more at home, and a third reported snacking more during the quarantine. A whopping 27% said they even think about food more than they used to.

Bathrooms were another favorite area to spruce up during COVID-19. More than 6% of respondents said they attempted their bathroom renovation on their own while nearly 9% said they hired professionals to do the work. 

You’ve probably noticed, too, that some people’s yards are looking exceptionally well-manicured lately. We were surprised to see that DIY landscaping and outdoor deck or patio renovations made up less than 7% of the projects tackled during COVID-19, and only 4% of the professionally hired jobs. Those who did focus on their gardens said they built flower beds, fences, terraces, and patios. Others said they used the money to buy lawn mowers or playground sets for their yards. 

A handful of people said they put their money into products to make their indoor environment more enjoyable, like new TVs or a new bed.

Final Thoughts

While COVID-19 has been a hard and trying time for all of us, it is refreshing to know that people found creative ways to make their shelter-in-place feel a little more like home. Our findings are a reminder that it doesn’t take hiring an interior designer or an elaborate house remodel to spruce up your place. Sometimes all you need is the time to notice the details and a stimulus check in the bank to make those easy adjustments to your living space. So whether it’s snuggling up in a refurnished living room or hanging out with the family on a newly mowed lawn, people are finding ways to cozy up to the idea of staying at home.

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