August 4, 2020

DIY spirit gains pandemic momentum

As Americans spend more time at home during the coronavirus crisis, the do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit is gaining momentum.

Hardware, home improvement and farm supply stores - which the federal government deemed essential businesses from the onset - have seen a massive surge in demand.

As the nation’s businesses slowly return to capacity, analysts report jumps in outdoor projects, deck rebuilds, and roof repairs, driving robust sales of paint, lumber, small tools and gadgets.

But the biggest economic bright spot has been smaller home projects. While sheltering in place, homeowners have attempted little upgrades they could do themselves – some that they’d been putting off for years.

From upcycling to basement waterproofing, these reclamation projects have moved from the back burner to fun family projects.

Of course, many homeowners are also finding more time to do the things they love. Whether green thumb or green horn, they're spending more time on the lawn and in the garden. Sales of landscaping supplies exploded 57% from the second quarter of last year.

Added to that is a higher demand for security systems, safety gear, sidewalk chalk and activity purchases for youngsters.

Conversely, major remodels such as full kitchen and bath overhauls are down across the board. Such projects usually require calling in a professional, and many homeowners aren’t yet comfortable bringing strangers into their homes.

Remodeling was expected to post annual growth of 3.9% in 2020, but the latest data now predicts declines this year and next, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Whether confidence returns to undertake large projects will likely depend on the depth and duration of the pandemic and the resultant economic effects.

In the meantime, the ownership part of homeownership continues to be a source of satisfaction. While many begin home improvement projects to combat boredom, they usually become invested along the way.

When the work is done successfully, the resulting feeling of accomplishment often enhances their confidence to attack more home improvement jobs.