The coronavirus pandemic has caused household spending priorities to shift dramatically. Vacations became staycations, and restaurant dining became takeout. As more people spend time at home, we’re also seeing consumers invest more in home repairs.
A new Groundworks survey discovered that home repairs are a key priority for 2021 household budgets. Find out how many homeowners will be doing repairs this year and ways that habits have changed because of the pandemic.
About 36% of Homeowners Plan to Fix Up Their Homes in 2021
Groundworks asked hundreds of homeowners across the country if they plan to fix up their homes in 2021. In response to our survey, about 36 percent say they plan to invest in home repairs and upgrades this year.
Do You Plan to Fix Up Your Home in 2021?
- Yes: 36%
- No: 64%
There is some regional variation in responses. Home repair plans are highest in the Northeast where 40 percent of homeowners plan to fix up their homes and in the South where 39 percent have home repair plans.
Prioritizing Home Repairs During the Stay-at-Home Economy
In 2020, the rate of home repairs increased dramatically.
A NerdWallet survey found that between March and mid-August, about 61 percent of homeowners took on a home improvement project. Simultaneously, there were lumber shortages from increased demand. Contractors like electricians were being booked months in advance. Retailers like Home Depot saw a 23 percent sales increase compared to the previous year.
The surge in home repairs is being driven by the following four factors:
- Home repairs are now a priority since people are spending more time at home.
- Homeowners have more availability to supervise contractors because many are working from home.
- Accelerated real estate markets have prompted home improvements before listing houses and after buying.
- Homes are being updated to meet new needs such as telecommuting, remote school, and backyard entertaining.
Tax Refunds Are Helping Pay For More Home Repairs in 2021
As the rate of home improvements increases, more people are using money from their tax refunds to fund their repairs.
Groundworks found that in 2021, about 20 percent of homeowners plan to use their tax refunds for home repairs or upgrades. That’s twice as many as the pre-pandemic levels reported in 2019 by a National Retail Federation survey.
Conversely, vacation spending has seen the opposite trend. Our Groundworks survey found that about six percent of homeowners plan to use their tax refunds for a vacation in 2021. That’s half of the pre-pandemic levels, where 12 percent used their tax refund for a vacation.
COVID-19 Has Changed How People Use Their Tax Refunds
- Home repairs: 10%
- Vacation: 12%
- Other: 78%
- Home repairs: 20%
- Vacation: 6%
- Other: 74%
This economic reshuffling away from the travel sector toward the home repair industry has been going on throughout the pandemic. Our research found that over the summer, 29 percent of people used money from canceled vacations to improve some area of their home. The most common home improvement project was structural home repairs, which include a range of major projects such as a new roof, foundation repair, or basement waterproofing.
Many Home Repairs Start at the Ground Floor
During the pandemic, basements have become some of the most important spaces in a home. Homes.com has reported that basements are a trending home feature during COVID-19. Homebuyers are searching for properties with basements to accommodate multi-purpose needs such as home gyms, storage, spare bedrooms, workshops, and even man caves.
Most projects begin with professional basement waterproofing and installing dehumidifiers. This transforms the space from a damp basement into a comfortable living space. Homeowners at risk of flooding are also installing sump pumps to protect any home upgrades from being damaged by a severe weather event.
These updates not only add usable square footage to a home but also improve the air quality and energy efficiency of the entire home. About half of the air in a home comes from the basement, so improvements made to the basement can have an outsized impact on the rest of the home.
Learn how the basement experts in your region can help you achieve your home improvement goals.