In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners modified their living spaces to accommodate working from home, attending school remotely as well as engaging in leisure activities. General spending on home improvements and repairs grew more than 3% to nearly $420 billion in 2020. With the economy shrinking 3.5% the same year, unexpected consumer confidence in spending on home remodeling made it the 10th consecutive year of expansion, with 2022 home improvement projections showing an average annual growth rate of 13.8% across the nation.
Nationwide’s Agency Forward research shows that consumers value and rely on their independent insurance agent’s expertise. As strong home remodeling activity continues, now is the ideal time for independent agents to check in with homeowner prospects and customers about their renovation plans, educate them about potential liability risks and coverage gaps, and offer a liability and property coverage review.
Home renovation trends and homeowner mindset
It’s important for independent agents to understand the types of home remodeling projects homeowners are planning and their mindsets around such projects. To this end, Nationwide recently conducted a survey of U.S. homeowners who have completed a major home repair or renovation in 2021 or intend to complete one in 2022. Trends and highlights are below.
Most homeowners are renovating for cosmetic reasons
Interior remodels are the most common type of renovation; they are mostly completed voluntarily and for cosmetic reasons. Our survey research indicates the top reasons homeowners undertake renovations are to repair normal wear and tear, make their home more enjoyable and update older features. More specifically:
- 70% of homeowners are working on an interior remodel.
- 49% are changing something that’s outdated.
- 55% are doing a remodel to make their homes more enjoyable.
- 18% are doing a remodel to make their homes more eco-friendly.
- 16% are working on a project to prepare their homes for selling.
Supply chain issues led to significant renovation project disruptions in 2021
While the home renovation boom spurred by the pandemic hasn’t lost steam two years later, the survey indicates the difference today is the challenges homeowners face in completing their desired projects. Of those surveyed, homeowners reported experiencing the following disruptions:
- High material cost (57%)
- Impacted timelines on their projects completed in 2021 (43%)
- Increased cost in labor (42%)
- Decreased availability of materials needed (40%)
In the face of rising project costs, homeowners are willing to do things differently to save
Rising material costs and supply chain issues aren’t deterring homeowners from taking on renovations but rather shifting their expectations.
- 63% of homeowners expect material prices to rise, while 48% anticipate an increase in labor costs.
- Half of the homeowners are concerned they will have to settle for materials that are available instead of their original preferences.
- 40% of homeowners said they would be willing to wait more than three months from signing a contract for work to begin if it meant protection from rising costs.
- 94% said they’d be willing to store materials on their own property to lock in a price.
Few homeowners have any insurance coverage for their renovation work, though many are engaging in relatively small-dollar projects
Despite rising supply costs, delayed construction timelines, labor shortages and potential COVID-19 restrictions, homeowners are choosing to undertake voluntary renovation projects. Few of these projects are covered by insurance but are considered low-budget. Nationwide’s research indicates:
- Three in 10 homeowners report having any insurance policy coverage—whether full or partial—for their projects; in 2021, a reported 70% of completed home renovation projects were not covered by insurance.
- Of those covered, 10% of projects were fully covered, and 21% were partially covered.
- 85% of home renovation projects have a total budget of less than $20,000, and nearly 2 in 5 (37%) have a budget of less than $5,000.
Homeowners expect supply chain issues to endure, and they are continuing with project work and maintaining an optimistic outlook
Almost 6 in 10 homeowners reported experiencing high material costs with their recently completed projects, similar to expectations for those planning a project. Still, only 5% of those planning home renovation projects will halt their projects due to these difficulties.
Looking ahead, a majority of homeowners (77%) have plans beyond their current projects. This is a strong indicator that supply chain issues, labor shortages and rising material costs aren’t deterring people from planning to make their homes more enjoyable today and in the near term.
Help homeowners stay one step ahead
For homeowners with renovation on their minds, you want to be one of the first resources they think of. Educating both prospects and current customers about home renovations and the impacts on their coverage is a small amount of work that can yield big payoffs. Consider having conversations with your clients about raising their policy limits to reflect the new value of their home after the remodel occurs. Additionally, it is important to evaluate what coverages a client may need during the remodeling process. By showing you care, your actions drive new relationships and client retention, and they keep clients engaged and relying on you.