Home Improvements Continue to Rise, Study Reveals


The percentage of American homeowners who undertook any type of home improvement project – including kitchen or bathroom remodeling – during the past year increased 18% since 2001.

That’s the finding of Scarborough Research, a New York-based research that specializes in identifying the shopping, media and lifestyle patterns of adults in the U.S.

According to Scarborough, its most recent study, whose results were released last month, found that 65% of America’s homeowners invested in some sort of home improvement project during the past 12 months. Those projects included activities ranging from landscaping to painting or remodeling, the research firm reported.

In addition, Scarboorough’s analysis found that homeowners are focusing more of their remodeling attention – and budgets – on projects for the inside of their homes.

Several interior home improvement categories, in fact, have increased dramatically since Scarborough put out its 2001 analysis, the company noted.

To that end, Scarborough’s latest analysis found that interior paint/wallpaper is the leading home improvement project. Some thirty-five percent of the homeowners surveyed cited this as an enhancement they have made during the past year, up significantly since the 2001 Scarborough study.

Other interior projects that have increased since 2001 are bathroom remodeling (up a whopping 27%), kitchen remodeling (up 25% over 2001 figures), and carpeting/floor covering (up 13% from the previous study). Landscaping, the top home improvement category in the 2001 report, dropped to number two in Scarborough’s latest study, the research firm noted.

“The overall increase in projects is due to the fact that today’s homeowners have an investment mentality – the thinking is that if one invests in a project today, it will pay off with the eventual sale of the home,” said Bob Cohen, president and CEO of Scarborough Research. “This mentality manifests itself in the Scarborough study, as we see more homeowners taking on involved and expensive projects, such as remodeling.”

The focus on interiors “can be in part attributed to the insecurity of today’s world,” added Cohen. “People are taking refuge in their homes more than ever, and keeping one’s sanctuary fresh and new – even by taking on simple, inexpensive projects – adds to the feelings of peace and warmth people get from their home.”

This is no surprise, as the events of September 11, 2001 helped to spur on the trend toward “cocooning” cited by trends forecaster Faith Popcorn, wherein people responded to an increasingly insecure world by returning to house and hearth, seeking out the comforts of home and family.

Even today, as consumers start to become more active, they still continue to gravitate toward the home. In the new trend of “hiving,” consumers embrace a busier lifestyle than before, yet continue to entertain, work and play from home, using their house as a home base for a wide range of activities.


The Scarborough analysis also found that Minneapolis is currently the top U.S. local market for home improvements, among the 75 markets measured by the company.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of Minneapolis homeowners conducted home improvement projects during the past year, and they are 13% more likely than all home owners nationally to have done so.

Rochester, NY, Salt Lake City, Providence, RI, Buffalo, NY, Philadelphia, and Hartford, CT, trail closely, as 73% of homeowners in th0se local markets performed enhancements during the past 12 months, Scarborough Research said.

“Undoubtedly, home improvement has a new role in popular culture,” said Alisa Joseph, vice president, advertiser marketing services for Scarborough Research. “There are countless television programs and seminars on the topic – and the hosts are young and hip artists and contractors who make even the most complex of projects feel attainable to the average American,” Joseph added.

“This has given a rise to a new generation of do-it-yourself homeowners who eagerly roll up their sleeves and grab a paintbrush or hammer and get to work on the home.” But while young homeowners may be quick to join the do-it-yourself bandwagon, the growing demographic of aging baby boomers continue to fuel growth among design and remodeling professionals.

The Scarborough study did not denote what percentage of the home improvement projects undertaken by survey respondents were D-I-Y in nature, compared to how many were professionally handled.

The Top 25 U.S. Cities For Home Improvements Surveyed Homeowners Who Completed Projects During Past 12 Months

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 74%

Rochester, NY 73%

Salt Lake City, UT 73%

Providence, New Bedford, RI 73%

Buffalo, NY 73%

Philadelphia, PA 73%

Hartford/New Haven, CT 73%

Indianapolis, IN 72%

Albany/Schenectady/Troy, NY 72%

Atlanta, GA 72%

Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, CA 71%

Milwaukee, WI 71%

Portland, OR 70%

Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News, VA 70%

San Diego, CA 70%

Houston, TX 70%

Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, FL 70%

Cleveland/Akron, OH 70%

Phoenix, AZ 70%

Nashville, TN 69%

Boston, MA 69%

St. Louis, MO 69%

Tampa/St.. Petersburg, FL 69%

Detroit, MI 69%

El Paso, TX 68%