In April 2019, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released its quarterly report on housing renovations, called the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity, or LIRA. In this report, they predicted that 2020 would see below-average growth in home renovations, as part of a larger declining trend.
But then, COVID-19 happened.
Across the world, more people were staying home in order to avoid the pandemic — and realizing how much work there was to be done there.
As a follow up to that study, the LIRA report of July 2020 (view the report) showed a drastically different picture: Q2 of this year showed a home renovation and improvement total of around $328 billion — an increase of $3 billion over the quarter prior, and $8 billion over that April 2019 report.
By all accounts, home renovations are up. And right there at the top of the list? Bathrooms.
“Right now, the biggest thing is bathrooms — since beginning of the year I’ve probably done 10 to 12 bathroom remodels and two kitchens,” says Josh Snyder, owner of Sawdust Custom Home Creations. “I don’t know if it’s just because everybody is at home because of COVID and realizing what they are just really unhappy with, but in this market, bathrooms and kitchens sell.”
While it’s true that renovated bathrooms and kitchens provide big resale returns, Snyder sees other, less drastic, trends.
“Wallpaper is coming back; they have a lot cooler designs than they used to,” he says. Additionally, subway tile — thanks to DIY shows, no doubt — is making a huge comeback. “I’ve had some clients who have asked me to come in and remove subway tile, and I’ve ended up talking them out of it.”
Whatever the project, however, Snyder is quick to provide much-needed advice on how homeowners can make it as problem-free as possible.
“Before the project starts, do your due diligence on who you are hiring and what for,” Snyder says, noting that while there is a huge market for handymen right now, they are limited in what services they can provide. For larger projects, you’ll want to make sure you find a licensed (and bonded) residential homebuilder to ensure everything is up to code and done correctly, all of which can be found in minutes on the state’s Labor, Licensing and Regulations website at LLR.SC.GOV.
Beyond finding good help, he notes, make sure that you are keeping realistic expectations for the project at hand. “I’ve been to a few homes where they want these really grand plans, but when I come back with the budget they are taken aback,” he says.
Beyond the budget, keep in mind that real life isn’t always what is shown on the DIY Network, either.
“Everyone loves Chip and Joanna [Gaines], and we love the renovation shows where they have a demo day where it looks all fun and people get to destroy stuff,” he says, but that isn’t true to life. “In real life, demo day takes a few days, is really loud and noisy and everything is covered in dust.”
Big projects; big returns
Every home project means something to you, but what does it mean for your home’s bottom line? Here are the top return-providing home renovations, courtesy of HGTV.
|Project||Estimated Return at Resale|
|Kitchen – minor||98.5%|
|Exterior upgrades (siding, windows, doors, etc.)||95.5%|