COVID-19 Seen Spurring DIY Projects

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a significant crimp on major residential remodeling projects, but it’s apparently spurring increased activity in the do-it-yourself sector, as growing numbers of homeowners are reportedly opting to undertake home-improvement projects themselves.

That’s the key finding of the latest in a series of surveys conducted among DIYers and home-improvement contractors by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) in partnership with the Farnsworth Group, a leading market research firm. The surveys, conducted regularly since the onset of COVID-19, are aimed at providing insights into the impact of the coronavirus on the mindset of homeowners and home-improvement contractors with respect to product usage, attitudes and buying patterns resulting from government-mandated COVID-19 mitigation efforts, health concerns, job losses, company closures, stock market volatility and shaken consumer confidence.

While health concerns among homeowners and contractors remain the leading cause of home-improvement project delays during the COVID-19 crisis, DIY activity – counter to the overall downward trend – “remains a bright spot…despite increased financial constraints (that) may lead to price sensitivity,” putting pressure on manufacturers, contractors and retailers “to offer more budget-friendly options,” according to HIRI, whose members include manufacturers, retailers and organizations in the home-improvement industry.

Specifically, 90% of the DIYers surveyed reported that COVID-19 has spurred them to begin home-improvement projects, HIRI reported, adding that having more time at home is the biggest factor impacting the increase in DIY projects. Other DIYers say they don’t want contractors in their home, so they’re undertaking projects themselves. Still others say that contractors simply aren’t available, HIRI observed (see graph).

In contrast to DIYers, home-improvement contractors, like kitchen and bath design pros, have reported widespread project delays or stoppages as a result of COVID-19.

The primary reasons for the drop-off in activity, according to HIRI, are that homeowners don’t want contractors in their home, they’re concerned about finances, or they don’t feel comfortable being in close contact with others. Other reasons include the imposition of restrictive government policies, company closures and social-distancing mandates. In most cases, impacted projects are expected to be delayed anywhere from one to three months, HIRI reported.

Among the survey’s other conclusions:

Contractors are purchasing fewer products and materials due to delayed or halted home improvement projects, with roughly half of current purchases being conducted online (delivered or for pick-up) and in-store purchases continuing to witness a decline, based on social-distancing concerns

While project requests and closure rates have diminished – and project sizes are becoming smaller due to COVID-19 – HIRI said that those firms generating $750,000 or more in annual revenue are being impacted less than smaller firms. In contrast, 18% of the surveyed larger firms say they have actually seen increased closure rates due to COVID-19, with the increased demand and closure rates attributed to projects that address home-related health and safety concerns.▪

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