Here’s what homeowners need to know about how COVID-19 could change the home improvement industry

August 04, 2020

Here’s what homeowners need to know about how COVID-19 could change the home improvement industry

If you’re considering remodeling your home amid the pandemic — especially if you may put your home on the market in the near future — it’s important to understand the impact of the pandemic on the home improvement sector.

Evaluating how COVID-19 has offset existing trends (and created new ones) as it pertains to a renovation or a remodel could determine the success of your investment in your home.

Uptick in demand in targeted areas

As American cities — New York City, Los Angeles and Houston, for example — prove particularly hard hit by the pandemic, city-dwellers have begun a pseudo-exodus into suburbia, changing the dynamics of many a housing market nationwide. (Employees of companies jumping on the permanent work-from-home bandwagon are also contributing to this phenomenon.)

As potential homeowners and renters alike turn their attention to the suburbs, we’ll likely see an uptick in home improvement demand in those areas — both from sellers looking to list their homes for top dollar and from newly minted homeowners looking to improve upon newly purchased properties.

Homeowners looking to sell should think seriously on the question of remodeling: could undergoing a skin-deep update of a bathroom or finishing a basement improve the odds of selling your home at a higher value? Changes in timeline for projects

Remodels and renovations involve an element of uncertainty even under normal circumstances. As we’re riding out the first wave of the pandemic — and possibly entering into subsequent spikes — the timeline of remodeling processes may unexpectedly change or elongate. Delay in shipping for materials, labor shortages and even the potential for governments to once again call for non-essential businesses to slow or even stop work could easily impact a project’s trajectory.

If the home improvement endeavor you’re considering is in any way time sensitive — say it must be completed before your home goes on the market, or before your renter moves in — plan to start as much in advance as is feasible.

Shifting costs

The pandemic has manifested itself in different ways regionally — it’s likely the cost trends will, too. Assessing demand (perhaps by taking into account trends based on whether your area’s housing market) could give you a sense of how rates may change for your remodel: could contractors in regions with declining demand for home improvement eventually be forced to raise rates to survive?

Actual market disruption has so far been fairly minimal, industry members say. The cost of raw materials was earlier this year predicted to decrease — demand for steel, for example, has declined drastically, creating an oversupply (and yes, resulting in a drop in price).

The bottom line is that it never hurts to do your research on the raw materials you’d like to utilize in your remodel: could there be supply chain disruptions for certain types of materials imported from areas under lockdown? Has that lack of access made prices surge up?

Emphasis on outdoor and multi-use spaces

Just as we’re likely to see regional concentrations of home improvement projects, the nature of the pandemic could prompt a renovation/remodeling emphasis on certain spaces in the home.

As tenants and homeowners move away from city living, they’ll likely look for typically-suburban amenities; that means outdoor spaces like backyards, porches or large balconies and multi-use rooms (hello, home office).

It’s always wise to focus your efforts in spaces that might very well make your home more desirable– especially if you’re looking to sell in the near future. No doubt that fixing up your yard or patio is an excellent start; so is emphasizing flexibility of space any way that you conceivably can. Could some simple improvements – think built in cabinetry or French doors – transform an extra bedroom into a home office?

Home improvement will no doubt look different for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t approach it strategically. Take the time to assess the pandemic’s impact on real estate and home improvement markets in your area (and to work safely with the right general contractor). It’ll no doubt make all the difference.