Remodeling clients' wants drive remodeling choices

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This month, Professional Remodeler asked remodelers what drives their clients' design decisions and how homeowners make those decisions. More than 80 percent of remodelers listed one of those two reasons as the top drivers of remodeling, with the reason "changing the home to fit how they live" coming in slightly more popular (43 percent to 39 percent).

December 01, 2009
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Methodology

 

Magazines are overwhelmingly the top source for clients’ design ideas, with 81 percent of remodelers naming it the No. 1 or No. 2 choice.

Changing the home to fit a lifestyle and home upgrades are the top reasons clients choose to remodel, according to the latest Professional Remodeler research.

This month, we asked remodelers what drives their clients' design decisions and how homeowners make those decisions. More than 80 percent of remodelers listed one of those two reasons as the top drivers of remodeling, with the reason "changing the home to fit how they live" coming in slightly more popular (43 percent to 39 percent).

We asked remodelers to rank six factors in their importance in prompting clients to remodel, and those two reasons were the only ones that more than 10 percent of remodelers identified as the top driver behind decisions. Eight percent cited life changes (such as a birth or parents' moving in) as the top reason, followed by repair (6 percent), return on investment (3 percent) and preparing the home for sale (1 percent). Clearly, when homeowners are remodeling it's because they want to, not because they need to.

Majority of remodelers offer design

More than 90 percent of remodelers offer some sort of design services to their clients. A quarter do so in partnership with outside designers or architects, but another 35 percent offer in-house design staff. Thirty-one percent of remodelers offer both in-house and outsourced design.

 

Remodelers clients are choosing bold colors more often for interior colors than exterior colors.

Remodelers in the Midwest are the most likely to offer in-house design services — 45 percent of remodelers there said they do, compared with 34 percent in the Northeast, 31 percent in the South and 29 percent in the West. In total, 95 percent of Midwest remodelers offer some sort of design services, compared with 92 percent in the West, 89 percent in the South and 88 percent in the Northeast.

Once the design process starts, it tends to be relatively short for the average remodeling firm. Nearly three-quarters of remodelers said the design process on their average project takes less than six weeks, with 45 percent reporting two to six weeks and 27 percent saying it takes less than two weeks. Only 22 percent said it took six weeks to four months, and just 6 percent said the average project took more than four months to design.

Not surprisingly, the results show a big difference between companies of varying revenues, with average design time increasing as revenues increase (see chart). For example, 48 percent of companies with installed volumes less than $500,000 spend two weeks or less designing the average project, compared with just 11 percent of companies with volume of more than $2 million.

What's driving decisions?

The average client spends the most time on the floor plan of their remodel, our respondents said, with 71 percent identifying it as the No. 1 item. Seventeen percent of respondents identified materials/product selection as the top factor, and 12 percent chose finish/color selection.

When they are making those color selections, though, clients are much more likely to take chances on the interior of the house than the exterior. More than 80 percent of remodelers reported that less than 25 percent of their clients are making bold exterior choices, and 30 percent of remodelers said that none of their clients are doing so. Only 6 percent said more than half of their clients are choosing bold exteriors. On the interior, 26 percent of remodelers responded that more than half of their clients are opting for bold colors.

Even in this digital age, magazines are the No.1 source for client inspiration, with nearly 60 percent of remodelers ranking it at the top of the list, followed by neighbors and friends (19 percent); Web sites (11 percent); television shows (9 percent); and travel (2 percent). As often as we hear travel cited as a source for design ideas, it was rated as least important by 58 percent of remodelers.

Finally, homeowners seem to have some — but not an overwhelming — interest in green, with 85 percent of remodelers saying their clients are at least somewhat interested. Only 13 percent said they were very interested — less than the 16 percent that reported their clients are not at all interested in green.

Average length of design project by company size


Annual revenues < weeks 2 to 6 weeks 6 weeks to 4 months > 4 months
< $500,000 48% 42% 8% 2%
$500,000 – $1 million 30% 50% 17% 3%
$1 to $2 million 19% 45% 29% 6%
> $2 million 11% 44% 34% 12%
SOURCE: PROFESSIONAL REMODELER SURVEY, SEPTEMBER 2009

As average revenues increase, so does the time companies spend in the design stage of a project.

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Methodology

400 remodelers completed the survey via the Internet from Sept. 10 to Sept. 19, 2009. Participants were chosen from a random sample of subscribers to Professional Remodeler magazine and Professional Remodeler e-newsletters.

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