Exclusive research: Bath Projects on Upswing

Exclusive PR research shows continued growth in bath market

April 06, 2011

With homeowners staying in their home longer instead of selling, bathroom projects continued to grow in 2010.
We’ve been hearing the anecdotal evidence for months that baths — along with kitchens — are the growth area in remodeling. The latest Professional Remodeler research backs that up.

More baths, steady prices
Bathrooms made up nearly a quarter of projects for the average remodeler in 2010 — up from just 14 percent in 2009. Only 15 percent of remodelers reported getting less than 10 percent of their business from bathroom projects last year. Bathrooms accounted for more than half the projects for 26 percent of remodelers.
“Due to a slump in housing sales, people are staying in their homes and fixing them up — usually the bathroom and kitchens,” said one New Jersey remodeler.
“There seem to be more opportunities for bathrooms than kitchens these days,” said a Virginia design/build remodeler. “I believe that to be due to a lesser overall cost compared to a kitchen remodel.”
Half of remodelers experienced an increase in their bathroom remodeling volume, while 30 percent saw business hold steady and only 20 percent suffered a decrease in bathrooms.
“Because of the poor economic climate many clients have waited to remodel their bathrooms, so there is a pent-up demand,” said a Michigan-based full-service remodeler.
Remodelers in the Midwest and Northeast were much more likely to report an increase in bath business — 55 percent in both regions, compared to 44 percent in the South and 41 percent in the West.
Most remodelers reported little change in the prices they were charging for bathroom projects — an average of less than $15,000. While many remodelers reported that they were charging more for bathrooms than a year ago — 41 percent said the price of their average bathroom project was higher — that increase was relatively small, less than 10 percent for most of them.
In fact, 76 percent of remodelers responded that there was either no change in the average price tag, or it increased or decreased by less than 10 percent. Only 15 percent of remodelers experienced an increase of more than 10 percent and only 9 percent saw their average decrease by more than 10 percent.
Remodelers may not be seeing job price decrease, but many reported that clients want more for that same price.
“Money is tight and clients expect to pay less for the same services/products as before,” said a California design/build remodeler.
“My clients still want the luxury package, but they do not want to pay extra for it,” wrote one Illinois design/build remodeler.
Half of remodelers in the Northeast said their average price tag increased, compared to 41 percent in the Midwest and 37 percent in both the South and West. On the whole, remodelers in the Northeast also reported the highest-priced bathroom projects, with half of remodelers there saying their average price was more than $15,000. Remodelers in the Midwest had the least expensive projects — 51 percent had an average price under $10,000.

Updating look top reason to remodel
When homeowners do choose to remodel, improving the aesthetics is the No. 1 goal. We asked respondents to rank the importance of seven reasons for remodeling on a scale from 1 (not important at all) to 5 (very important).
Updating appearance and replacing old fixtures and faucets easily ranked at the top. Sixty-seven percent ranked updating appearance as very important, and 59 percent did the same for upgrading faucets and fixtures. Improving the usability of the bathroom was ranked as very important by 41 percent of
remodelers, followed by creating a more luxurious bathroom at 30 percent and increasing space at 18 percent.
In a marked change from just a few years ago, homeowners are not very concerned with improving the home for sale. Only 10 percent of remodelers said that was a very important reason for their clients to remodel, compared to 44 percent who said it was unimportant.
Homeowners are also not very interested in improving water efficiency, according to remodelers. Only 5 percent said it was a very important reason, while nearly half said it was unimportant.
As for what they are updating, countertops lead the way, with 68 percent of remodelers reporting they always replace countertops in a bathroom remodel, and 93 percent saying they do it most of the time. More than half of remodelers said they always replace or upgrade faucets and fixtures (62 percent), bath/shower surfaces (59 percent), cabinets/vanities (58 percent) and flooring (52 percent). Only 33 percent of remodelers said they always upgrade wall surfaces.

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