The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported that despite the remodeling market hitting $567 billion in 2022, homes today are older than at any time ever recorded and in growing need of critical replacements and maintenance.
Also, more investment is needed to better prepare against disaster, improve energy-efficiency and meet accessibility of an aging population.
The report, Improving America's Housing 2023, authored by Carlos Martin, Project Director, Remodeling Futures Program, says the pandemic brought the widespread adoption of remote work, growth in home equity and savings and the aging of the housing stock boosted annual spending on improvements 24% between 2019 and 2021 to $406 billion.
More than one in five projects costing $50,000 or more were paid for with home equity.
During the pandemic, homeowners used their time on DIY projects. Between 2019 and 2021, spending for DIY improvements grew 44% to a record height of $66 billion.
“While many homes require critical improvements and repairs, those most in need of updates are often occupied by households least able to afford the expense,” said the report. “Deteriorating housing systems and equipment threaten the health and safety of older, lower-income homeowners, while the burden of high improvement and repair costs jeopardizes the current stock of affordable housing. Disparities in home equity by race and ethnicity suggest widening gaps in housing adequacy, accessibility for aging in place, home energy performance, disaster recovery, and improvement and maintenance cost burdens. Greater public funding for home retrofits and repairs will be vital for addressing unmet needs and longstanding inequities.”
With the aging of the housing stock, spending on energy-related improvements such as roofing, HVAC, and windows and doors tripled from 2001 to 2021, to $111 billion or 34% of market spending, up from 28% in 2001. Additionally, the rising number and severity of climate-related disasters is increasing home restoration spending. In 2021, homeowners spent $18 billion for disaster repairs, well above the real annual spending of $12 billion averaged in the 2000s.
The report continues by saying most homes lack features that make them accessible for people with limited mobility. Nearly two million homeowners aged 55 and over pursued projects for accessibility in 2020 and 2021, but many more will need to make these modifications as the number of older adults and multigenerational households increase in the coming decades.
Click here for more information and to read the full report "Improving America's Housing 2023."