Home renovation activity and spend have reached the highest rates reported since 2018, according to the annual Houzz & Home survey of more than 3,200 UK respondents from leading home renovation and design platform Houzz.

More than half of homeowners renovated their homes in 2021 (53 per cent), up from 49 per cent in 2020. Homeowners recorded a 20 per cent jump in median renovation spend at £18,000 from £15,000 in 2020. This growth can be attributed to homeowners with higher budget projects (the top 10 per cent of spend) increasing their investment from £100,000 in 2020 to £128,000 in 2021.

Demand grows for home professionals

Homeowners sought help from professionals for their renovations in 2021 (92 per cent) more often than in the year prior (88 per cent). Homeowners relied most heavily on the expertise of speciality service providers such as electricians (58 per cent) and plumbers (53 per cent) for their projects. That said, builders (34 per cent) and architects (23 per cent) were the most hired professionals in construction and design-related services, and saw a significant jump in 2021 compared with 2020 (30 and 18 per cent, respectively). With recent homebuyers tackling more projects than their peers, it’s no surprise that they’re also the most likely to hire professional help (99 per cent), compared with short-term and long-term homeowners (96 and 89 per cent, respectively). 

Continued activity is forecast

Home renovation activity continues into 2022, with nearly half of the surveyed homeowners planning to renovate (49 per cent) and more than half planning to decorate (55 per cent) this year. Homeowners’ planned spend sits at a record high, increasing to £10,000 for 2022 versus £7,000 for 2019, a 43 per cent jump. Homeowners with higher-budget renovations (the top 10 per cent of spend) are planning to spend £100,000 on projects in 2022 compared with £75,000 in 2021.

“Homeowners are clearly committed to investing in their homes despite heightened product and material costs driven by supply chain disruptions and are exploring diverse funding sources. This is especially pronounced among recent homebuyers, who rely heavily on cash from previous home sales to fund their projects and spend significantly more than the national median,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. 

New homebuyers drive growth

Recent homebuyers*, who accounted for 14 per cent of renovating homeowners in 2021, spent nearly double the national median (£30,000), surpassing short-term** and long-term*** homeowners (£25,000 and £13,000, respectively). Short-term homebuyers with higher budget projects (the top 10 per cent of spend) invested £170,000 compared to £130,000 by recent homeowners and £100,000 invested by long-term homeowners. This is likely attributed to the larger scope projects they undertake, averaging three to four rooms, as well as home systems, such as electrical and plumbing.

Cash from savings remains the most significant source for funding renovation projects (86 per cent), however, homeowners financing renovation projects with credit cards gained six percentage points (18 per cent). Savings and credit cards hold their ground as the leading forms of payment regardless of homeownership tenure. As expected, recent homebuyers and short-term homeowners were more likely to rely on cash from previous home sales (52 and 32 per cent, respectively), whereas long-term homeowners were more likely to use cash from refinancing in 2021 (eight per cent).

Switching up interiors
Investments in interior rooms remained the priority for three in four renovating homeowners in 2021 (75 per cent). Kitchens are both the most popular interior room to be upgraded and the room that commanded the highest spend at £12,000. Kitchens saw an increase in spend of 20 per cent compared with 2019 (£10,000). Interior rooms that saw the most dramatic increase in popularity from the previous year included an entrance or boot room (26 per cent), dining rooms (25 per cent), utility rooms (20 per cent) and home offices (18 per cent).

Securing the grounds
There has been an increase in home security upgrades among renovating homeowners in the past year. In fact, outdoor lighting (37 per cent), alarms or detectors (29 per cent) and outdoor security cameras (21 per cent) were among the most frequently purchased technology upgrades. Purchases of outdoor security cameras have risen by four percentage points since 2019. Home security system upgrades were most popular among recent homebuyers, followed by short-term homeowners and long-term homeowners (25, 22 and 16 per cent, respectively).

* Recent homebuyers are those who have not yet moved into their home or moved in less than a year ago. 

** Short-term owners refer to homeowners who moved into their home between one and five years ago.

*** Long-term owners refer to homeowners who moved into their home six or more years ago.

The Houzz & Home Survey

The annual Houzz & Home survey is the largest survey of residential renovation, building and decorating activity published. The survey covers a wide range of renovation projects in 2021, from interior renovations and additions to home systems, exterior upgrades and outdoor projects. Data gathered includes historical and planned spends, professional involvement, motivations and challenges behind building, renovation and decorating projects, as well as planned activities for 2022. The 2022 study includes more than 3,200 respondents in the UK alone, providing insights into the home improvement activity of the millions of users of the Houzz site and mobile apps. 

The Houzz & Home Survey was sent to registered users of Houzz and fielded March through April 2022.