Tag Archives: home improvement

2018 Home Renovation Report: Homeowner Trends, Spending and Priority Projects


Just as fall signals football and cider mills, spring brings the home renovation projects that were set aside for the winter. QuestionPro Audience conducted a survey with 500 homeowners across the United States to gauge homeowner trends, future renovation plans and spending habits for spring 2018. To view our infographic with full report findings, click here.


Overall, U.S. homeowners are optimistic about the next twelve months. 60% of homeowners take the state of the economy into consideration before making renovation plans, and 61% feel confident the economy is improving. Additionally, 55% of our respondents think home values will increase as well over the next year. While President Trump can be a controversial topic, only 28% report taking the presidential administration into consideration before making home improvement plans.


Homeowners look to be encouraged by today’s stronger housing market, and are making investments in their homes. 55% of homeowners plan to conduct at least one renovation over the next twelve months, up from the 38% who have previously performed improvements. 41% of respondents are initiating a home improvement project to improve their quality of living, while 17% are looking to increase the value of their home, but don’t have current plans to sell, and 16% want a “new look”.

Homeowners are also tackling bigger, more expensive projects this year—15% are planning to remodel their kitchen this year, 13% plan to update a bathroom, and 9% are looking to revamp the bedroom. 42% plan to spend between $3,000 and $10,000 on their upcoming renovation, up 6% from last year. A bit of good news for contractors: 61% plan to hire a professional for their upcoming project, compared to 59% who hired a professional for their past project. 49% of respondents plan to pay with cash or savings, 17% will put it on a credit card, 14% will use financing, 10% plan to use a home equity loan, and 8% are counting on their tax return to finance their project.


Baby Boomers and millennials have at least one thing in common when it comes to conducting home projects: 61% of both baby boomers and millennials plan to perform at least one improvement over the next twelve months. That may be where the similarities end, however. The majority of millennials (35%) plan to spend between $1,000-$2,999, while 31% of baby boomers will be spending between $5,000-$9,999. Baby boomers will primarily be paying with cash (67%), financing (13%), or taking out a home equity loan (7%). Millennials will also be paying with cash (42%), but 19% plan to use one or more credit card.

Millennials are focused on renovating their kitchen (14%), bathroom (10%), and living room (9%), while 23% of baby boomers will be updating their bathroom, kitchen (19%), or replacing windows (9%). The majority of both age groups will be hiring a professional to do the work, but 39% of millennials plan to conduct the renovation themself, compared to 27% of baby boomers. Millennial respondents get a sense of satisfaction from performing the work themselves (40%), while baby boomers are more focused on keeping the project cost effective (59%). Baby boomer DIY-ers are also very specific about where they purchase their materials, with 85% shopping at building supply stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s or Menards, hardware stores like Ace Hardware or True Value (8%) or Walmart (8%). Millennials also shop at supply stores (64%), Walmart (14%), and hardware stores (7%), but they frequent warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club (7%) and high-end specialty stores like Kohler (4%) as well.


While home improvement has stereotypically been thought of as a male-dominated industry, women are picking up power tools and narrowing the margins. Of our respondents, 55% of women are planning to conduct a home improvement project over the next twelve months, compared to 57% of men. The majority of men (33%) intend to spend between $5,000 and $9,999, while 29% of women are looking to spend $1,000-$2,999. Cash is king for women funding their project; 54% of women are using cash, whereas men will be using cash (40%) or financing (21%). The genders are focused on improving different areas of the house as well; men will be remodeling the bathroom, while women plan to update the kitchen.

The majority of both sexes—63% of women and 58% of men—intend to hire a professional for their upcoming project. 56% of women feel they do not have the skills or equipment necessary for their planned project, while men value the expertise that comes with hiring a professional (47%). Another dissimilarity between the genders is how they find professionals to hire. Women prefer to ask a friend for a referral (40%), look on a review website such as Yelp.com (18%), or ask a contractor for a referral (17%). Men also ask friends for referrals (30%), but would rather use a search engine like Google.com (24%), or look on Yellowpages.com (21%).

The motivated women who plan to DIY prefer it because it gives them a sense of personal satisfaction (41%), whereas DIY men like that it’s more cost effective (53%). The majority of both men (74%) and women (75%) plan to purchase materials at a building supply store like Menards, Home Depot or Lowe’s, but that’s where the congruity ends. 10% of men intend to shop at Sears or IKEA (6%), while women will head to warehouse clubs like Costco (8%) or Walmart (8%).


The current housing market inventory is very competitive, so it is logical that many homeowners are choosing to invest in remodeling their current home, rather than get into a bidding war. Additionally, with the economy and housing market more stable, homeowners now have more income—and equity—so they’re making renovations to create their dream homes. Our study found that the majority of homeowners are focusing on discretionary projects such as kitchens and bathrooms, which may have been put off after the housing crisis. Judging from our report, it looks like 2018 will be a profitable year for homeowners, contractors, and material suppliers alike.

Download the full infographic report here.

8 Killer Apps For Moving Or Remodeling Your Home


Remodeling and selling homes is complicated enough as it is. Fortunately, technology is making it a whole lot easier. Here are some of qSample’s favorite apps for getting the job done (some feedback provided by our contractor and home buyer online panels).


1. Homeselfe

Homeselfe gives you a step-by-step walkthrough of your home to help you check its energy efficiency and search for problems. That new ultra-efficient furnace isn’t going to do you much good if all the heat is escaping out the walls, right? You don’t need to patch up anything you’re going to be replacing in the near future, but otherwise, patching up the house is a great first step for any major remodeling project. It might improve the sale value, too.


2. iHandy Carpenter Tools

There are a lot of tools needed to remodel a house, but many families don’t own a full toolkit. You could go out and buy all of them by yourself… or you could get a digital version of some of the most-used tools.

Note that this won’t replace physical tools (like hammers), just several of the most common measuring tools.


3. Homestyler

This handy app focuses on digitally redesigning rooms, allowing you to get a better sense of what an area would actually look like if you remodeled it in a certain way. This sort of “try before you buy” setup is extremely helpful for ensuring the final design is something you’re going to be happy with, and it’s currently available for free.


4. The Handyman Calculator

When you’re remodeling your home, there are a lot of different measurements you’ll need. For example, how much paint will you need to cover the walls, and how much carpet is going onto the floor? This calculator helps you answer those questions, and comes with some shopping list features to help make sure you buy everything you need for the project.


5. 360 Panorama

This useful application stitches images together to create a 360 panorama view of a given area. One shift we’ve seen in the housing market is that people want to quickly and easily take a look around the home – without necessarily having to go to the trouble of actually visiting the house. Apps like this can help you reach that particular crowd, and might just result in a faster, easier sale.


6. Zillow Mortgages

Really, the whole Zillow series is useful, but the Mortgages one is especially helpful when you’re talking price. Pulling this out in a meeting with a potential buyer helps you talk budget and see what they could reasonably afford to pay. If buyers know that a home is affordable, they’re more likely to follow through and seal the deal.


7. PDF Pen Pro

“But this has nothing to do with selling houses!” you say? That, my friend, is where you’re wrong. You’re going to be signing a lot of papers during the process of selling a home, and apps like this one give you the chance to do most of that signing digitally. This is especially helpful when documents need to be submitted by a given deadline and you’re busy dealing with other matters.


8. JotNot Scanner

Speaking of paperwork, there will also be times when you have to send it to others. JotNot Scanner is one of the most reliable scanning apps available, and it includes a variety of messaging systems (including fax) to get your paperwork where it needs to go.


Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design. For more information, please visit the Uma Campbell Blog.


Home Improvement Projects Infographic

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The One Surefire Prediction For Construction in 2016

Woman looking in crystal ball to see a green home


Despite lukewarm shopping during this past Holiday Season (which our research predicted), many experts foresee a healthy economy in 2016 for most sectors. One such sector is the construction industry—also tagged with many other predictions. The crystal balls are out early this year, perhaps more than wrecking balls. Who knows which divinations will come true?

There is, however, one pervasive forecast in the construction industry, beyond that of a healthy economic year:

Green is here.

The market research statistics certainly agree. The market for green building materials reached $43.8 billion in 2014, and is expected to grow nearly ten percent in 2016. Approximately 69% of builders and 78% of remodelers feel that customers will pay more for green. Furthermore, the average green share of building is 48% while non-green is 52%.

What is a green construction, though? Varied classifications exist—from energy-sustainability to recycling-capabilities—but in short a green construction is defined as a construction that is either certified under any recognized global green rating system or built to qualify for certification.

Onto a few predictions of this greener brave new world, that like the Holiday Season shopping, agrees with our data.

Construction Dive writes:

Commercial construction has typically led the pack in green adoption, but the residential sector is starting to catch up. The growing trend in both sectors is driven not just by a desire to produce environmentally friendly structures, but by consumer demand, higher-quality results and lifecycle cost savings, according to experts at Greenbuild 2015.

The Market Research Blog agrees, stating:

Consumers want green materials that offer eco-friendly, low energy use, and sustainable products to make their homes, offices, and environment healthier.

Construction Monitor jumps on the green bandwagon for 2016, saying:

Many construction clients are urging (or requiring) builders and contractors to use recycled materials or proven sustainable materials that can be easily renewed. Interest is growing in sustainability factors such as zero-energy homes that produce all the energy used within the home. Energy conservation is also becoming more popular.

In a large constellation of predictions, Builder as well puts green as one of the major construction trends in 2016.

And on and on, if you adventure into Google…or several construction periodicals and internet groups that we regularly frequent.

The green construction trend is not that surprising, though, and is key for marketers laboring to understand homebuyer consumer tendencies. After all, our research reveals that environmentally-conscious purchasing is on the rise. Moreover, in our study Why Consumers Buy Green, qSample found that 64% of consumers are concerned with the environment, while 76% consider the environment when making shopping decisions.

Between expert predictions, temperate statistics, and the research from our premium contractor panel, it’s obvious green is a central drift in 2016 for construction and purchasing property. Those who ignore will be green, indeed, but with envy when they are left behind by those following the market research tealeaves.


Homebuyers Are Green For Green Homes (SlideShare)

Woman underneath drawing of house in green landscape

Buying Green has been a popular trend for decades, even if the term isn’t universally agreed upon or even understood. According to research, both secondary and qSample’s primary, homeowners and homebuyers can define Green. And they want it more than ever when it comes to living arrangements. This includes various demographics, including the spectrums of baby boomers and millennials.

These qualitative and quantitative findings are explained in our newest SlideShare presentation, which is as colorful as the rich Green consumer movement.


what makes consumers buy green products graphic

Infographic: 5 Remodeling Projects You’ll Want To Avoid

House sinking in stormy sea

This week’s infographic is based on our article of the same name, 5 Remodeling Projects You’ll Want To Avoid.  It’s sound advice for homeowners, whether presented in written or graphic form. You’ll be surprised at the amount of money you could potentially lose down the road by committing these construction missteps.

We’ve also shortened the customary headline from the usual “Infographic of the Week,” as we expand into more video and other mediums. The one topic that will not change is our continual research and management of our proprietary panel of more than 100k general contractors, homeowners and homebuyers–whether it’s to assist your market research or save you some dough with your property.


Infographic on 5 Remodeling Projects You’ll Want To Avoid


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Study: Homebuyers Want Green (and they can now define the term)

House made of leaves with light bulb in front

In a Jimmy Kimmel Live segment, a faux reporter went out to the enlightened streets of Los Angeles to research the views on eating gluten. Not surprisingly, most people interviewed rejected gluten in their diets for health reasons. The problem is that almost half had no idea what gluten even was!

That’s the power of trends.

Is going Green another one of those trends with a nebulous interpretation? Another one of those goody-goodness movements that most cannot define?

There is good news on one front. When it comes to homebuyers and what they consider Green, the definition is getting clearer—as reported in a piece by the National Association of Home Builders. It is based on a recent study by the NAHB’s publishing arm, BuilderBooks: What Green Means to Home Buyers: Perceptions and Preferences. The research focused on consumer preferences primarily on Green features in the home and the surrounding community.

Beyond understanding how homebuyers regard the term “Green,” NAHB Chairman Tom Woods explained:

This new study is an incredibly useful tool to help builders and remodelers determine not only consumer attitudes towards green homes, but also which green features consumers care most about. We have seen incredible growth in green and sustainable building over the years, and the results of this survey only further solidify the continued consumer interest in green building, and which attributes matter most these buyers.

According to homebuyers in the study, these words constitute Green homes:

 32%: Efficient, Energy Efficient, Water Efficient, High Efficiency
15%: Eco-friendly, Environmentally-friendly, Environmentally-responsible, Environmentally-safe, Environmentally-conscious
8%: Solar, Solar Power, Solar Energy, Solar Panels
4%: Lower Costs, Lower Utility Bills, Saves Money

Furthermore, when considering purchasing a home, energy efficiency (88%) was a main influencing factor, only behind being located in a safe community (90%).

These findings are not that surprising, and are key for market researchers attempting to understand homebuyers and homeowner trends. After all, our research reveals that environmentally-conscious purchasing is growing. This includes the booming solar industry. The U.S. has even surpassed Germany as the world’s leading producer of solar power.

If you’re curious about who is leading the clean pack, these states and their solar usage might not surprise you:

1. California – 2621 megawatts/year
2. Arizona – 421 megawatts/year
3. North Carolina – 335 megawatts/year
4. Massachusetts – 223 megawatts/year

These four states are but part of apparent and nationwide trend, as demonstrated in these charts:

solar industry graphs

In our study, Why Consumers Buy Green, qSample found that 64% of consumers are concerned with the environment, while 76% consider the environment when making shopping decisions (you can download it at the end of this article). The reasons, when qualifying the data, are based on the Generalized Exchange Model. It hypothesizes that four variables play a role in determining attitudes or propensity to perform behaviors:

Feeling of social responsibility
Feelings of social equity
Perceived effectiveness of the behavior (performance)
Benefits to the community

Simply put: Buying Green feels good because it makes others feel good (and it looks good as we partake in that goody-goodness!).

Furthermore, going Green with homes is becoming a nationwide inclination, according to GreenHomeBuilder:

Affordable green homes: No longer is “green” synonymous with “elite.” As green features become more in demand and more commonplace, builders and designers are starting to incorporate them even into moderately priced homes. Expect this trend to continue in 2015 and beyond. Look out especially for growth in the number of modular, pre-designed green and energy efficient homes, as well as green energy retrofits of existing homes.

With homebuyers (as well as homeowners), the NAHB report states that a safe and Green community is important when it comes to living standards. Considering the national trend, the study’s percentages numbers will likely continue to grow. It certainly has blossomed (pardon the pun) when it comes to baby boomers, as presented in our infographic based on primary research:

infographic on why consumers buy green


All this data will certainly affect qSample’s future management and vetting of our more than 100k general contractor and homeowner panels—as well as future case studies and white papers.

If we want to find out about gluten, though, we’ll have to go somewhere else…


what makes consumers buy green products graphic


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5 Remodeling Projects You’ll Want To Avoid

Home remodeling projects can be a great way to get more enjoyment out of your home. After all, this is a place you’ll be spending years and years in: why not make your home exactly the way you want it? Makes sense. However, while it’s certainly worthwhile to invest in the improvements that you’ll truly love, if you’re looking for a return on your investment or hassle-free upgrades, there are definitely a few projects you’ll want to avoid.


  1. The Opulent Home Office

If you work out of your home, then a cozy home office may seem like a great idea. The problem is when this project gets a little too out of hand it actually turns the room into an office copycat, with big built-ins, major tech equipment, and other very specific, single-use purchases. When selling your home, having a home office that can’t be easily converted into another type of room will likely detour potential buyers, and it certainly won’t add to your space’s overall value. So, while you should go ahead and invest in a nice desk and an ergonomic chair, keep the major construction to a minimum and make sure all of your additions can be easily undone.


  1. Pinching Pennies on the Basics

Over the years you’ll need to replace appliances, fix up the water heater, or make other basic improvements. Because these aren’t glamorous remodels, you may think about going with the cheapest, easiest upgrades, rather than energy-efficient options that have higher up-front costs.


This is a huge mistake. Energy-efficient appliances and fixtures in your home are extremely attractive to potential buyers, and you can often get tax credits to help defray the initial costs. Plus, not only can energy-efficient upgrades like Energy Star appliances, solar water heaters, low-flush toilets, and fiberglass windows help save you money on your energy bills, energy-efficient upgrades tend to have longer lifespans, so you shouldn’t have to replace your investments for a long, long time.


  1. The Luxe Garage

This one might be a surprise to some people. After all, won’t turning your garage into a recreation room, craft space, or other area increase the value of your home by increasing the livable space? Well, not really. For one, potential buyers would rather have a place to put their car than a playroom or another entertainment area. Plus, turning the garage into a very specific, single-purpose room can be a downright deterrent, because what may be a useful upgrade to you might very well be useless to most buyers. Plus, garage remodels can be extremely expensive and require major construction and contracting work, which can often become logistical nightmares. Save yourself the trouble and keep the garage a garage.


  1. Too Much Space

If you have a very small home, building an extra bedroom and bathroom might be a great investment. However, if your house is an average size for your area, then adding extra space can actually be a costly mistake. While few people want a home that feels too small, many people also don’t want a home that’s too big, as this leads to higher bills and higher overall living costs. Before you decide to make this major change, take stock of your neighborhood and get a sense for how your home fits in. If you’re on the smaller side, make the leap. If you’re already in line with the standard, then we suggest staying put.


  1. The Oversized Kitchen

While palatial kitchens used to be en vogue, this upgrade can be lost on potential buyers who don’t spend as much time in the kitchen as you do. If a kitchen upgrade is truly important to you, pick one feature you really want — like a professional stove, oversized island, or fancy appliances — and just focus on that rather than doing a total overhaul. If you go whole-hog, be prepared to see very little money back for this investment.


Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation. Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

General Contractor case study

Infographic of the Week: General Contractors & Mobile Technology

Many of us can surely hear the busy sounds of construction outside in these warm months. It’s certainly the sound of money to many. But what are the commercial habits of these hard-working contractors, especially in an age when commerce is vastly centered around mobile technology? Are they marketing online? Do they network on Facebook for bids?

These and more issues are dealt with in this week’s infographic. It’s based on our proprietary study, which you can also find in text at our article General Contractors and Mobile Technology.

Please also explore some of our other primary research on general contractors and homeowners found in our articles:

Shopping Habits of General Contractors

General Contractors and Brand Loyalty

Who Are Today’s First-Time Homebuyers?

This might be all you need for your market research, and if not, don’t hesitate to reach out to us so we can reach out to our general contractor panel. In any event, enjoy the weekly infographic and any outdoors sound you enjoy as we all enjoy the warm months.

General Contractors and Mobile Technology


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Infographic of the Week: Spring & General Contractor Trends

I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again now:

There are two seasons in Chicago—winter and construction (replace “Chicago” with your preferred upper Midwest or Northeast location).

To some, though, spring in these regions might seem like this meme:

Johnny Depp holding boy who is sad about spring in Chicago

Yet for many spring is here, and so is the season of construction, where general contractors recover from Jack Frost and make hay (and fix plumbing and replace drywalls and rewire electrical systems and all the other key tasks that keep society going).

Or is it?

We’ve retooled some of our past studies, and drilled them with some newer research from our proprietary general contractor panel. We hope you find this infographic insightful, regardless of your industry. The infographic can be shared, downloaded or copied to various mediums (instructions at the bottom).

Enjoy and enjoy the weather, or if not just remember the wise words of Mark Twain: “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”

Replace “New England” with your preferred upper Midwest or Northeast location, during this spring.

Contractor Survey 2015
General contractors button

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The Construction Industry is the Happiest (and how to get some of that)

It was Confucius who wisely said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Recent studies acknowledge that as a profession general contractors fall into the essence of the quote—to the point they are living in a Pharrell Williams song, always singing:

Because I’m happy!

Okay, where did you get this stuff?

The research is based on TINYpulse’s 2015 Best Industry Ranking report. It surveyed more than 30,000 employees across 500 organizations, amid 12 different industries—concluding that the happiest were “construction and facility service workers.”

Behind chirpy general contractors in the bliss scale were those in these industries:

2. Consumer products
3. Technology and software
4. Telecom and energy utilities
5. Healthcare
6. Manufacturing

The question would be then: Why are general contractors happier than the other professions? It’s understandable why putting together iPhones in China isn’t exactly Prozac Nation, but building houses in Chicago at the apex of a Midwest winter doesn’t seem like the path to nirvana. One might think this secret is only found with Emmet in The Lego Movie, life an eternal Taco Tuesday. Yet there are answers that don’t require the understanding of Confucius.

Okay, why are they so happy?

An article in Fast Company adroitly deciphers the reason for happiness for general contractors and those in the construction business. An obvious reason has to do with economics:

It’s important to note that the construction industry—both residential and commercial—is bouncing back from a recession low of $716.9 billion, or 4.9% of GDP, in 2010. Three years later, it was up to $925.4 billion, or 5.8% of GDP. Likewise, 70% of what the U.S. produces is for personal consumption, making for a strong consumer product sector.

Having a steady job with rising pay always helps the mood, with or without Taco Tuesday. However, other industries are presently doing well, and many in the workforce would agree that salary is just not enough to make every Monday into a Fat Tuesday. The TINYpulse study does reveal other aspects of the construction industry that make its enjoyable:

–  Supportive management.
–  Abundant tools to succeed.
–  Opportunity for professional growth.

Do these sound unfamiliar in your industry? They might because recent reports show that 52.3% of Americans are unhappy at work. On the other hand, the construction industry has been renewed by a sense of purpose and embracing a positive philosophical attitude, similar to the tech boom decades ago.

The Fast Company article gives further reasons:

In the construction industry, a variety of organizations offer coaching and career mentorship to students. Once they’re ready for the workforce, the industry has a long history of providing new workers with apprenticeships so they can learn the skills required to move on to tackle more challenging work.

Finally, add to the construction industry an atmosphere of comradery, and you’ve got some happy campers building concrete camps across an economically-recovering nation.

Okay, why should anyone be happy at work?

As with the tech industry and its mystic joy in Silicon Valley, other industries should take heed at general contractors and the construction industry in general. Maybe not everyone can have a beer with satisfied coworkers in a lot after long day of building, but stronger communication in transparent settings could make a world of difference. In a 2014 study from the University of Warwick on worker productivity, Professor Andrew Oswald commented:

“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

Are we happy here at qSample? Let me put it this way: in sales there is a saying that goes “always be closing.” At qSample the sales team motto is:

Always be connecting.

That is not only the key to success, we feel, but also the key to happiness. Humans are social animals, always seeking connection and intimacy, and this ought to be highly stressed in the workforce.

Money may not buy happiness, but happiness sure can make money for companies. Just ask general contractors, beyond Emmet.

And then everything might be awesome.