Let’s Hope Those Home Improvers Actually Are Improving Their Homes

Given the mania for home improvement in the past few years, one might think people would be ready to sit back and admire their handiwork. But they aren’t. For marketers, the beauty of home improvement is that one expenditure leads to another. Say you’ve modernized your kitchen. All of a sudden, the dining room—which, until then, had seemed perfectly satisfactory—looks outdated and in need of renovation. What sort of projects will homeowners take up in the year ahead? A poll by Vertis offers some indications.

Painting is the most common task, with nearly half the respondents (48 percent) expecting to do interior painting in the next 12 months. Next on the list is landscaping (cited by 42 percent). Twenty-two percent expect to remodel a kitchen or bathroom. Other popular projects include installation of new lights (20 percent), plumbing (19 percent), new windows/doors (17 percent), electrical work (17 percent) and new siding or roof (14 percent). Twelve percent plan to build a deck; 9 percent anticipate adding a room. Fewer plan to add central air conditioning (5 percent) or to replace their current furnace (4 percent).

The rise of home improvement has brought with it an increase in the number of people who undertake such projects themselves instead of hiring a pro. In the 2000 Vertis report, 38 percent of all adults said they make the decisions and do the work themselves. In the new report, the figure was 47 percent. Fifty-eight percent of men and 38 percent of women now describe themselves as do-it-yourselfers. The DIYer population is spread across the income scale: 30 percent have income under $30,000, 28 percent make between $30,000 and $50,000, 20 percent make between $50,000 and $75,000, and 22 percent of DIYers make $75,000-plus. Depending on the project, do-it-yourselfers are more likely than adults in general to say they’ll make home improvements in the next 12 months. Sixteen percent expect to build a deck, 24 percent to install new lights and 53 percent to do interior painting. Do these people know what they’re doing? The survey doesn’t pose that impolitic question. Here’s a prediction, though: With so many do-it-yourselfers now running loose, the next decade will see a lucrative market for professionals who undo the amateurs’ mistakes and bring their houses back into compliance with local building codes.

When people shop for home-improvement supplies, selection (cited by 39 percent) is the factor that most influences their choice of store. Convenience is the runner-up (31 percent), trailed distantly by customer service (10 percent), price (9 percent) and quality (7 percent).