Homeowners are remodeling in record numbers amid pandemic

As people continue to spend more and more time in their homes, many are looking for ways to upgrade through remodeling. And it doesn’t take a big budget to do so.

MINNEAPOLIS —  When Dave Fransen bought his first house in south Minneapolis 13 years ago it was a true fixer upper, and he’s since built a new kitchen, garage and a backyard fence.

“It definitely needed some work,” said Fransen. “And I’ve just been ticking off projects here and there.”

But this year is his busiest yet, because, as the pandemic gets longer, so does his list of projects.

“When you’re at home a lot more, it’s easy to get more annoyed by the things that have always sort of annoyed you about your house,” said Fransen. “They get a little more amplified.”

That’s one reason homeowners nationwide are remodeling in record numbers. Home design website Houzz says leads for professional projects have spiked nearly 60% this year, with Americans spending more time than ever at home.

“The boom in construction can be heard all around the country, and probably the world,” said Tamara Day, host of the HGTV remodeling show Bargain Mansions.

Day remodels homes around Kansas City, helps homeowners with design both in-person and virtually and is now redoing her own house, finding that like many families it felt far too small when she, her husband and kids were suddenly all staying home.

“My designers have never done so many home offices as they have in the past six months,” said Day.

Day says offices are one of the best investments you can make, stressing that any small area – even a closet – will work, and that wallpaper and tile are inexpensive ways to give it character for video calls.

“Making that backdrop something that fits what you want people to think about you and your business is a huge part of this,” said Day.

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Day says gyms are also a smart addition, saying all it takes is a big mirror, a padded floor and some basic equipment.

“It is a need, not a want anymore,” said Day.

And she says kitchens and baths are always money well spent, but says you need firm bids, a well-researched plan and advice from an expert.

“A consultation fee is nominal compared to making large mistakes, and often times that’s all you need,” said Day.

Day says you also don’t need a big budget or a lot of skill, saying paint, cabinet hardware and light fixtures are easy, affordable upgrades.

“There are lots of projects that you can take on that will change the way your entire space feels without having to spend a ton of money,” said Day.

Dave Fransen agrees. Thanks to the pandemic, he’s already had time to do his own demolition for a new bathroom, bedroom and office, and with the money he’s saved this year he may redo his basement next.

“Covid hit, and work from home hit, and it became a really good opportunity,” said Fransen. “It’s kind of the right time to take that on.”