Survey: Kitchens Top Priority in Today’s Homes

CHICAGO — Kitchens and bathrooms remain at the forefront of the consumer decision-making process when it comes to buying or remodeling a home, a newly released research study reveals.

The research study, whose results were released at April’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS), was conducted by Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Participants in the mid-January survey included more than 2,200 home enthusiasts from across the country who bought a new home in the past 10 years or plan to build one in the next 10 years.

The study reveals that the top five priorities for people who own a home are:

1. An all-new kitchen “that looks great and is fun to work in.”
2. The right amount and type of customized storage.
3. A master bath and bedroom suite that feels like a luxurious hotel room.
4. Well-designed spaces that can be personalized.
5. A separate and convenient sizeable laundry workroom.

The study, BH&G said, also found that more than half of all home enthusiasts want green building and remodeling options presented to them. This number jumps to more than two out of three in the millennial age group.

“It’s more important than ever to listen to what Americans want and what you can do to satisfy those needs,” says Gayle Butler, BH&G editor-in-chief. “What we’ve discovered is that the home continues to be our emotional center and the sweet spot of everyday life. Economic uncertainty aside, we won’t stop spending, improving and dreaming.”

Other findings from the Better Homes and Gardens research study reveal that consumer priorities include:

  • Outdoor Kitchens: Entertaining space is no longer limited to the indoors, as 40% of survey respondents said that their outdoor living areas are almost as important as those inside. “Home is a hive and people want an inviting space that allows them to gather with family and friends,” Butler observes. “Outdoor spaces have also gone beyond the barbeque to include dining rooms, entertaining areas and full cooking and refrigeration capabilities.”
  • Specialty Storage: According to Butler, specialty storage “could not be more key today.” She states: “With families going in so many directions all at once, women value storage and organizing tools that help them keep life in control and clutter at bay.”
    When home enthusiasts were asked the one thing they would want to tell a homebuilder, 70% said, “No more cookie-cutter houses. I want a house that has character and charm.”
    When asked what specialty space they would prefer, homeowners named sunroom (36%), extra-large front porch (35%), oversized laundry room (34%) and mudroom (26%) with far greater frequency than home office, exercise room, playroom or wine cellar.
  • Flexibility for the Future: The pace of change – in families, in technology and life itself – is so fast that “consumers demand homes that will change with them,” Butler points out.

Baby boomers, particularly, are planning for these changes, she explains, adding that in the next five to 10 years, about one in three expects an aging parent to move in; many are planning for an adult child or relative to move in (23%), and most demand guest accommodations in their home for grown kids and grandkids (66%). More than half of baby boomers expect to have a need for one-floor living as well.

“Popular flex spaces that account for changing lifestyles include additional bedrooms with private baths,” Butler says.

Survey Probes Rocky Relations Between Homeowners, Contractors

Roswell, GA — Few business relationships evoke such intense emotions as the homeowner-contractor bond, although a newly released homeowner survey reveals a broad range of opinions, from a high degree of satisfaction to outright dismay.

The national survey, involving more than 300 men and women who had a contractor of any kind do work in their home within the last few years, was conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of the Roswell, GA-based Kimberly-Clark Professional DIY Business. 

Among the survey’s key findings were the following:

  • Sixty-four percent of respondents said that most home improvement contractors, including subcontractors involved in kitchen and bath projects, were professional and got the job done properly and on time. Only 20% of the surveyed homeowners described the contractors as “unreliable, often late and rarely able to finish the job on schedule.”
  • The “cost of the work” was the biggest impediment to hiring a contractor, with 41% of respondents citing this as the most likely reason for not hiring a contractor.
  • When homeowners were asked to choose from a list of unusual activities that contractors had done in their homes, the top selection was being asked to assist with the work (14 percent). Seven percent said contractors had suggested they get together socially, and three percent reported being asked on a date by a contractor. Four percent reported that contractors had either taken food or drink without asking or cooked a meal in the kitchen. Two percent said contractors had taken naps on beds or couches or used personal computers.
  • What about those worst contractor nightmares that everyone seems to talk about? Forty-six percent said it was the contractor who takes much longer than promised to complete a job. Thirty percent selected the contractor who broke one thing while fixing another. A third-place tie, at 20 percent, went to contractors who quote one price and then increase it significantly during the job, and contractors who take the money and run – without completing the work. 
  • Thirty-five percent said contractors had generally done a good job protecting their homes and leaving them clean and tidy, while 12% said contractors usually left a mess and expected customers to clean up when the job was finished.
  • The top concern when it comes to the mess created by home improvement contractors was dust that gets in the air and settles all over the place. Many homeowners said they wished contractors would do a few simple things to protect their homes, such as wearing shoe mitts, putting down drop cloths or containing the work area with plastic. 

The survey also probed how contractor hiring decisions were made. The overwhelming choice, at 70%, was a recommendation from someone they trusted. After that, decisions were based on a feeling that the contractor could be trusted with the home and its possessions (16 percent). A good price came in third, at 10%.