Most people plan to stay in their current home in retirement. Over half of homeowners who are over 60 say they have no plans to move, according to a survey of 152,939 people who visit Houzz, a home design website. Perhaps that's one reason home remodeling has become a popular extracurricular activity for baby boomers and their elders.
About 20 percent of older homeowners do some kind of major or minor remodeling every year. Many of us install upgrades with aging in mind, such as widening hallways and doors, installing easy-to-operate faucets and appliances, laying down slip-resistant flooring and making sure to clear out slip-and-fall hazards such as throw rugs, extra furniture and precariously placed decorations and knickknacks.
Here are seven trends in home design that cut across all age groups, but are especially relevant to retirees and near-retirees.
1. Looks matter. No matter what our age, homeowners say that improving the appearance of the home design, looks and feel is the single most important reason for undertaking a renovation. The second most important reason is to improve functionality, including increasing energy efficiency. Surprisingly, boosting resale value is not at the top of mind for most homeowners, and that's especially true for those over 65.
2. Boomers want upgrades. Millennial homeowners are the most enthusiastic renovators. Almost half of them report they have recently done some work on their homes. However, not that many millennials actually own a home. They make up only about 10 percent of the homeowner population. It's the baby boomers who largely drive the home improvement market, because so many of them own homes. And when they do make upgrades, they tend to spend more money than their younger colleagues.
3. Geography drives renovations. The popularity of renovations is not determined by age, but by geography. People in the midwest and northeast spend more money on interior renovations, while homeowners in the south and west focus more on outdoor projects. The most frequent interior remodels involve bathrooms, then the kitchen and the living room or family room. The least popular interior rehabs involve the basement, a home office or a laundry room. The most frequent work on the exterior is painting the house. After that it's adding or expanding a deck, then installing a fence or shed. Low on the list are a greenhouse, hot tub or pool.
4. Boomers spend more. Boomers take on projects that cost about twice as much as those done by millennials, but the range of costs is huge. Bathrooms range from about $3,000 to over $20,000, depending on size and scope, Houzz found. Millennials average about $6,000 for a minor kitchen remodel and $21,000 for a major kitchen remodel. But boomers spend $18,000 for a minor remodel and over $50,000 for a major kitchen redo.
5. Funding home improvements. Almost 90 percent of people who are remodeling pay for at least part of their project out of personal savings. About 25 percent use their credit card, and 15 percent take out a home improvement or other kind of loan, according to the Houzz survey. Over 30 percent of younger homeowners turn to their credit card, while only about 20 percent of older homeowners resort to plastic.
6. Seeking service providers. Some 80 percent of people renovating their home use professional help. Almost half use a general contractor, and most of the rest employ some kind of specialized help, hiring electricians, plumbers or tile installers by themselves. Older homeowners are more likely to rely on general contractors, and we also tend to rely more on their guidance, as opposed to taking advice from friends or family.
7. Difficulties selecting providers. The biggest challenge in renovating our home is finding the right service provider, such as a good plumber, electrician or general contractor. The majority of people rely on personal recommendations, but others use online sources such as Angie's List or Home Advisor. The provider issue is followed closely by the difficulty in researching and deciding on the right materials. Finding the financing and staying on budget are two other problems, which are more likely to affect younger people than older homeowners.
But maybe you'll be among the lucky 10 percent. That's the proportion of homeowners who say renovating a home is easy.
Tom Sightings blogs at Sightings at 60.