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Remodeling and the Work-From-Home Paradox

Remote work has sparked an increasing interest in remodeling, but the pandemic is making some homeowners nervous about pros entering the home.

July 28, 2020
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Work from home with baby

By fizkes | Adobe Stock

Remote work has given homeowners plenty of time to look at their cramped countertops and dirty kitchens, sparking an increasing interest in remodeling projects. But at the same time, some are hesitant to invite pros to work on interior projects due to the coronavirus, according to the National Kitchen and Bath’s 2020 Kitchen & Bath Market Outlook.

Work from home sparks interest in remodeling

A June update to the 2020 report found that households surveyed where at least one person is working from home are nearly twice as likely to want to renovate a kitchen or bath during the pandemic (19%) than those not working from home (11%). And 38% of those surveyed who are working from home say that COVID-19 has changed how they view their house, compared to 23% of those who are not working from home. 

“Countertops, cabinets and flooring have to be designed to make cleaning and disinfecting a breeze,” NKBA says in its blog post. “Touchless faucets and toilets are getting a serious second look. Kitchens with more counter space and bathrooms that are more calming and relaxing are other desirable upgrades.”

Social distancing concerns can make homeowners wary of interior remodels

Though there is an interest in renovating kitchens and baths, social distancing measures have left some homeowners who were surveyed wary about letting strangers in their homes, NKBA says. The number of active projects involving a professional in the study during the pandemic is less than the number of previously active projects that used pros that completed earlier this year: Professional involvement for kitchens dropped from nearly half of active projects to a third of them, and it fell from 40% to 30% for bathrooms. 

Work from Home: A new normal

The pandemic has forced—or allowed, for those who don’t miss the commute—more than 100 million workers to work remotely, according to Gallup. A Gallup guide for working at home during the pandemic reports that the percentage of U.S. employees working from home more than doubled from mid-March to mid-May 2020 from 31% to 65%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

“These at-home workers aren’t just working from home. They are working from home during a pandemic, taking Zoom calls from the kitchen table, absorbing troubling health-related news and adapting to new life routines,” Gallup says in its report. “For families, their home isn’t just their new workplace. It’s also a classroom and a day care.”

Many of these families are looking for more from their homes, and NKBA says that pent-up demand may spark an uptick in hiring professional services for kitchen and bathroom remodels once conditions become more stable. 

Remodelers are already feeling more confident, but the recent LIRA from the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University predicts that there may be more trouble ahead. 


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