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Design Firms Vying to Cope With COVID-19 Challenges

PALO ALTO, CA — Residential construction, architecture and design firms, faced with unprecedented challenges tied to the COVID-19 epidemic, are adopting a wide array of safety guidelines and business practices aimed at coping with the impact of the coronavirus, according to a major new survey by Houzz Inc.

According to Houzz’s Second Quarter 2020 “Renovation Barometer,” whose results were released in mid-April, more than four in five small businesses in the architectural and design services sector and the construction sector (84% each) have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, while one in seven anticipate a future impact (15% and 13%, respectively).

Of those businesses currently impacted by the pandemic, the most common effects include project delays (75% and 78%, respectively), fewer new business inquiries (75% each) and project cancellations (61% and 63% respectively), according to Houzz, the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home renovation and design.

“Despite beginning the year confidently, with a long backlog of work and high expectations, firms in the residential construction sector and the architectural and design services sector have experienced a sudden, dramatic shift in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Houzz Senior Economist Marine Sargsyan. “For the first time since launching the Houzz Barometer in 2015, a greater proportion of firms reported quarter-over-quarter decreases than those reporting increases, Sargsyan added.

Architecture and design firms are responding to pandemic-related business challenges by offering video consultations and remote collaboration tools, and sourcing more products online (49%, 48% and 34%, respectively). Construction businesses have implemented new safety guidelines, temporarily closed offices or storefronts and deferred hiring new employees (57%, 34% and 33%, respectively). More than a quarter of businesses in the architectural and design services sector and the construction sector also adopted online invoicing and payments (30% and 27%, respectively), according to Houzz.

While short-term indicators report a severe immediate impact on the home improvement market due to the coronavirus pandemic, a “neutral-to-good” outlook for 2020 prevails among both the architectural and design services and construction sectors (56% and 66%, respectively), the company noted.

Houzz’s quarterly Renovation Barometers, based on a quarterly online survey sent to a national panel of businesses with an online profile on Houzz, are aimed at tracking residential renovation market expectations, project backlogs and recent activity among businesses in the construction, architectural and design services sectors.

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