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Poll: Project Delays Still Linger, Even as Virus Concerns Recede

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The degree of concern that residential remodeling professionals are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic is “beginning to lessen,” although project delays and cancellations still exist – as do employer concerns about the health and safety of their workers.

That’s among the key conclusions of the latest, and final, in a series of weekly surveys conducted by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) in conjunction with the research firm The Farnsworth Group. The pair have partnered for the past three months on surveys regarding home improvement project requests, homeowner purchases, professional contractor business, and materials supply trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Indianapolis-based HIRI, most industry professionals’ concerns are split between health/safety issues and financial matters. For homeowners who already had projects started, the coronavirus outbreak has generally not stopped them from working towards project completion. For those who did cancel project plans, their main concern was financial, followed closely by an inability to obtain the materials they needed, HIRI said.

Most industry professionals expressed “mild to moderate” impact on their workflow as a result of COVID-19, with the majority (80+%) of work having been delayed or halted entirely. The primary reasons for the delay and/or stoppage have been on the homeowners’ end – resulting from concerns over health and safety, as well as finances, HIRI said. Most industry professionals anticipate the work to be halted anywhere from one to three months, while roughly half of the surveyed companies reported they’ve experienced layoffs as a result of the coronavirus, HIRI added.

“While residential project requests have been lower than usual, the quality of the requests remains robust, suggesting homeowners’ intentions to have work completed on their homes is still there,” HIRI said.

Among its other findings:

  • Project quality and sizes are rebounding, with more than 50% of surveyed home improvement professionals saying their recent project sizes are the same or larger than pre-COVID-19.
  • Industry professionals anticipate less revenue in the coming months as a result of COVID-19. Of those companies, closing rates are significantly lower due to COVID-19, given the health and safety concerns of homeowners. However, there has been a slight rebound recently in online purchasing, “suggesting that homeowners have intentions of having the work completed, but perhaps as DIY projects,” HIRI said.
  • A major factor in DIY trends is homeowners’ free time. “Because people are at home more often and many are shifting their employment to work-from-home protocols, this leaves more time for home projects,” said HIRI. “Furthermore, because homeowners are home more often, the need to improve their homes is front and center. This is leading to a steady increase in DIYers either continuing projects or initiating new projects.”

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