How Smart Are Your Remodeling Clients?

Has the overflowing pool of remodeling shows and websites made your clients more demanding or more educated?

Before and after photos of a remodeling project around a fireplace | Construction Pro TipsCourtesy "Resist the Boring"

Does the average homeowner know how much it costs to pull off a successful remodeling project? According to one recent survey, the answer might be ‘yes’.

In March, ImproveNet, a home improvement service website and subsidiary of CraftJack, conducted a survey of 1,000 people, showing them before and after photos of two different home renovation projects and asking them to estimate the costs of both materials and labor for the project.

Surprising results

The surveyed group was, on average, able to accurately guess the cost of materials within two percent, and they vastly overestimated the cost of labor (estimating that costs were 36 percent higher than the actual cost). The full results of the survey can be found here.

These results show that people were able to guess the costs of home remodeling projects fairly accurately. And when people were wrong, they tended to overestimate rather than underestimate.

Room
Guess
All roomsActual cost 15% less
All rooms, materials onlyActual cost 2% more
All rooms, labor onlyActual cost 36% less
KitchenActual cost 13% more
Living roomsActual cost 17% less
BedroomsActual cost 42% less
BathroomsActual cost 9% less

 

Homeowners are more educated

It seems that the average person really might know more about home remodeling than expected and the average person being more educated on construction topics is definitely good news for contractors. Communication with homeowners is an absolutely essential aspect of residential construction. That communication automatically becomes easier if the expectations of both parties are aligned. Customers having realistic ideas of the costs, both of labor and of material, of a renovation project can only help a projects’ chance of success.

Plus, customers will be more open to spending money on a construction project if it is going to cost less than the hypothetical price they envisioned.

So how did we get here? What has led to the general public becoming more educated regarding renovation and remodeling?

The first and most obvious answer is the internet. People today have access to information that previously would have been considered niche and industry-specific. If someone wants to know more about home renovation costs, it’s as simple as opening up a web browser and doing a little research.

The HGTV Effect

The second answer has largely proven to be a thorn in the construction pros’ collective sides: HGTV.

The potentially negative aspects of HGTV have been widely documented. A quick search online for “the HGTV effect” produces multiple news stories and blog posts saying that HGTV gives viewers misconceptions about the world of construction and home renovation. The costs of remodels, project times, and other realities of renovation are skewed and misrepresented by the editing process required to make a 40-minute episode of television.

Still, the popularity of HGTV hasn’t been entirely negative for the construction industry. People know more about construction and renovation in general due to the popularity of the cable television channel. In 2018, the channel was the fourth most watched cable network in the United States, averaging 1.3 million prime time viewers. Most of the network’s top shows are centered around the concepts of home renovation and remodeling. Clearly, these are topics that are on the minds of the American public.

People are engaged with remodeling now more than ever

The cultural obsession with HGTV has clearly made an impact. People are spending a lot of time watching shows focused on home renovation, which means that people are spending a lot of time thinking about home renovation. The more that people engage with a topic, the more they learn about it, possibly leading to survey results like the ones above.

Interestingly, during the same time frame that HGTV has skyrocketed in popularity, the remodeling industry experienced historic levels of growth. In fact, the Residential Remodeling Index reached an all-time high in 2018, which basically means that the economic conditions known to influence remodeling conditions were the best they have ever been.

Americans are focused on making their homes better, both culturally and economically. Instead of treating home renovation shows on channels like HGTV as a hinderance, contractors should instead see them as an opportunity. These shows are generating interest in the idea of remodeling. It’s up to contractors to capitalize on that.