The UK chooses Homes over Holidays
In normal times, holiday savings are carefully built up over the year and then spent very quickly in an exotic location during the course of a week or two. However, the travel restrictions that have been a fact of life since March have meant that all around the country people have been looking at their hard-earned holiday budgets and wondering if there isn’t something else that they could used for?
The obvious choice of expenditure for many has been the homes that they’ve been spending so much time in over the past eight months. This was highlighted by a report from the HomeServe Foundation, which found that around 34% of homeowners have used unspent holiday cash to fund home improvement projects this year.
The scale of the home improvement revolution
All the money that’s being funnelled from other savings and sources is no small amount, as the report went on to show that a staggering £7.5 billion more has been spent on home improvements this year compared to 2019. Another report from money.co.uk has estimated that this has led to £55 billion being spent on renovations in the UK, which averages out at around £4,000 being spent per household since the lockdown began. Most people went on to say that they expect to spend as much, or more, on their house in 2021 as they did this year.
There are a couple of reasons behind this, with the main one according to money.co.uk being that people want to be more comfortable at home given the increased amount of time they’re spending in it. Natwest discovered a third of people expect to be staying at home more often in years to come, with this figure rising to 45% for younger homeowners.
The other main motivations include a fear of being embarrassed by their interiors (an affliction apparently known as ‘Zoombarrassement’) as well as the desire to add value to the home. The current property market boom is behind this last reason, as many people are sacrificing their holiday in order to take advantage of the temporary stamp duty tax holiday.
All of this has meant that demand for work has been so high that many people have been struggling to find tradespeople to do the work, with the HomeServe Foundation’s report revealing that 13% of homeowners have struggled to source skilled labour.
How are people improving their homes?
Social areas have been one of the most popular spaces to upgrade, as people put comfort and entertainment ahead of function and utility. According to the 2020 Renovation Nation Report
, this has led to areas such as garden studios, leisure areas, indoor gyms and pub/bar spaces all being on the must-have list.
Upgrades such as these have become popular as we’ve collectively started to prefer homes that have a point of difference and that facilitate escapism and improved wellbeing. This is important to note, as these factors will become more important in the property market as sellers look to keep pace with the competition.
When the sun was shining, garden upgrades topped the list of the most popular lockdown projects. Analysis from money.co.uk suggests that this may continue, as people seek to make use of their outdoor spaces
during the winter so that they can still meet people outside in comfort, despite the increasingly cold weather.
Windows and doors are always popular areas for home renovations in the winter months, as homeowners seek to make the most of what little light there is while simultaneously improving thermal efficiency. Bi-fold doors
are a great way to achieve this, as the large window areas maximise the feeling of light and space within a room, which will really help people to feel less cooped up as COVID-19 restrictions continue. These types of upgrades are also an ideal way to modernise a home’s aesthetic, such as by installing on-trend grey window profiles
With the possibility of spending evenings by the side of a fire in a warm pub being less likely than usual, homeowners are also going to be looking for ways to make sure their house is as warm, well-insulated and draught-free as possible. With the launch of the Green Homes Grant Scheme
in September, homeowners that were already concerned about energy efficiency will have even more of an excuse to turn breezy buildings into cosy homes.
A still-improving home improvement market
Despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we can be relatively confident that the main drivers behind the home improvement boom will continue into at least early next year, as people settle down to ride out the local lockdowns in comfort and with the stamp duty tax holiday and Green Homes Grant scheme both continuing until March.
This boom has also led to a surprising circular wheel of improvements, forcing more improvements in order for sellers to keep pace with the market. And the market doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down just yet, with Rightmove stating that in October the average asking price of homes hit a record high of £323,530. Estate agents pointed to both the stamp duty changes, as well as people reconsidering their lifestyles during lockdown as central to this record-breaking figure.
As these trends keep moving forward, it might not only be this year’s summer getaway money that’s going to be spent on the house, but also money that was set aside for big Christmas parties, New Year retreats and even next year’s holiday savings too. Ironically, this could lead to a situation in which fabricators, installers and tradespeople are much too busy to contemplate a holiday of any kind for some time to come!