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5 Remodeling Industry Insights for 2021

Industry experts predict 2021 trends for the remodeling industry. 

January 04, 2021
Thought Leaders Predictions for the remodeling industry

2021 Prediction:  Say hello to ADUs and goodbye to open floor plans

Michael Anschel prediction for 2021 remodeling industryMichael Anschel

Owner and Principal, Otogawa-Anschel Design + Build 

Things will be better. Boom! Done. Where’s my prize? It’s tough to make predictions during COVID, but with that caveat, I do have thoughts on what to expect in 2021: 

The rise of multi-generational living and an increase in ADUs. Bedroom additions have been one of the top requested projects since August, and I expect that to continue. 

Open floor plans were on their way out, and this year has squashed them. The rise of the flexible floor plan is here and along with it a desire for interesting doors, creative operating hardware, and partition types. 

We’re also going to see an increase in men pushing for a remodel and being engaged in the design process. Before I get eviscerated over that, consider I’ve only got a few words to make a point. I’m talking broad strokes. For much of the country, men are still going to an office five days a week, while women are at home raising kids. Now that the guys are working from home and putting more hours in at the stove, they are acutely aware of their home’s deficiencies. I predict this leads to larger projects for those design build firms already engaged in projects over $200K.

“Indoor environmental health” will be a phrase heard with increased frequency as the winter and ‘stale air syndrome’ sets in. If you’re selling ERVs, this will be a good year for you.

2021 Prediction: A rebalancing of projects

Kermit Baker2021 remodeling industry predictions Kermit Baker

Senior Research Fellow,
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies

I would characterize this year as a surprisingly, if not shockingly, good for the remodeling industry. The areas with the best performance were smaller projects and exterior jobs. Design build folks were a mixed bag, and overall didn’t do as well as the specialty contractors.  

My sense of what is going to happen in 2021 is a rebalancing of that dynamic. The big interior projects that some households were putting off may come back. There’s a few reasons for this. One is that homeowners who didn’t want people in their house may now feel safe. Also, in 2020 many potential clients didn’t want to do a large remodel because it compromised their ability to use their houses. Finally, there’s now pent up demand for those upper-end, discretionary projects.  

In 2021 , we’ll also have a schism between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots.'

On another note, in 2021 we’ll also have a schism between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” There are people who haven’t been that affected by the pandemic, and are working at home just fine while saving money by not eating out. These folks will do interior projects. Then there are others that we see on the news who are on the food lines, and their unemployment will run out.

2021 Prediction: The new flexibility standard

2021 remodeling industry predictions BILL BALDWINBill Baldwin

CEO and Principal,
HartmanBaldwin Design + Build

As the saying goes, “Predictions are tough, particularly if they are about the future.” And so with some trepidation, I shall attempt a bit of remodeling ”soothsaying.” 

The last ten months have set the world askew and many of our business norms have been forced to adapt. Working remotely, Zoom meetings with our clients and our teams, key documents shared for review before a meeting rather than in person have forged a quality that is the residue of the many challenges we have navigated: Flexibility! 

This jarred-loose flexibility is a genie that has no intention of returning to the bottle, and will be a requirement rather than a reaction moving forward. I expect those remodeling firms that have embraced this flexibility in the workplace, with their clients and even in their business process, will thrive in 2021. When a member of your team can do a quick Zoom with a client, regardless of their locations, and later said client can check any of a number of issues regarding their project on a mobile app (before they turn in for the night), everyone’s world has been improved. 

I keep hearing, “When will we be back to normal?” I’m quite sure we should not settle for that. Of course...I’m a bit flexible about this.

2021 Prediction: The “New Normal” Will Be Part of Our Future Normal

Allison Iantosca2021 remodeling industry predictions Allison Iantosca

Owner, President,
F. H. Perry Builder

We need to continue checking in with our team. Instead of a 12-month plan, we’ll make a 12-week plan so we’re nimble enough to pivot. Positive change will happen, but it’s still going to be confusing. 

Do I get the first vaccine, do I wait for the third vaccine? What if I can’t get one? Do we as a company require a vaccine? The vaccine is positive in that maybe we can get rid of this darn thing, but on the other hand, we can’t assume that because it’s a positive topic that it doesn’t have stress and psychological implications. 

Do we as a company require a vaccine?

We can’t assume we’re all moving in the same direction. People will resist going back to normal because they’ve learned about parts they like about the adjustments businesses made for the pandemic. We have to stay willing to be flexible, communicate with our teams, and not make assumptions as we continue to close the loop of the impact of what just happened.

2021 Prediction: More Bold Colors and Personalization

2021 remodeling industry predictions Mary MikschMary Miksch

Team Leader at Neil Kelly,
Design Consultant, LEED-AP,

CAPS, ASSOC. AIA

We are seeing design becoming much more personal. Now that we’re all spending so much time in our homes, you start to think, “Why did I design this space for someone else? Why was I making decisions that would be universally appealing?” instead of some place you love to spend time in. So we’re seeing more color come back, more personal touches. 

There is a general trend toward warmer colors with bold pops. Design trends are going more toward bold choices more than ever before, so clients will be thinking of how to make it their favorite color, how to build it in a way that works for their family. For a while, we’ve been seeing blue, but I just saw a colleague design the most beautiful emerald green kitchen with green cabinetry and warmer colors as well. I think we’re going to see more of that and less of the totally neutral designs that we’d been seeing before the pandemic. 

2021 Prediction: Most Predictions Will Be Wrong

Mark Richardson2021 remodeling industry predictions Mark Richardson

Author, Speaker and Business Growth Strategist

My prediction is that most people’s predictions for 2021 are going to be wrong.  

Back in April I predicted that 20-30% of remodelers wouldn’t survive this crisis. I was incorrect. This environment is so changeable that it’s impossible to look ahead with any real accuracy. 

I believe that home improvement will continue to be huge, but would I position my company for that? No, I would not. There’s still too much uncertainty as it relates to the political dynamic, the economy, the vaccine, and a number of other variables. All of these unknowns means that it’s still very difficult to accurately predict how the year is going to look for business. 

This environment is so changeable that it’s impossible to look ahead with any real accuracy. 

 However, I believe the fog is starting to lift. In 2021, Q2 will be less uncertain than Q1, and Q3 will be less uncertain than Q2. 

You may be thinking, “What do I do if most of my predictions are wrong? How do I plan?” 

The answer is that you focus on the short term. To illustrate this concept, I love Brian Moran’s book, The 12 Week Year (Wiley, 2013). In terms of serious planning, I would suggest thinking ahead a quarter at a time. It’s fine to fantasize further out, but don’t plan. This includes staffing, investments, and marketing efforts—look three months ahead rather than six or 12.   

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