New kitchens and living rooms: Lockdowns boost home renovations

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As anyone who has recently walked around their neighbourhood will be able to attest to, there seems to be no shortage of home renovations going on at the moment. At least, the number of utes parked in streets and scaffolding on houses would point towards that.

And according to the 2021 Houzz & Home Report, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Released last month, the report revealed that Australians have jumped at the chance to renovate their homes over the past year, with the median figure being spent on renovations increasing by 5% to $21,000 over that period.

Interestingly, managing director of Houzz ANZ, Tony Been, says that the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have actually proved the catalyst for plenty of owners to start renovations.

“While the pandemic caused initial concern for the residential renovation industry, many homeowners finally had the time and financial means to move forward with long awaited projects in the past year,” he says. 

“This pent up demand, along with long-standing market fundamentals empower homeowners to continue investing in their current homes.” 

As Been notes, access to time and money were the major reasons cited by renovators for being able to start work - 41% of respondents said that they had wanted to renovate all along but finally had the time to do so, while 35% said that they had entered a financial position that allowed them to renovate.  

Kitchens renos top priority list

So what are Australians actually renovating? 

For a third straight year Houzz’s research found that kitchens were the most popular area of focus, with 24% of respondents to their survey reporting that they had conducted kitchen renovations. The median amount being spent on kitchen renovations jumped too, rising 33% to $20,000 in 2020. 

Kitchens were followed by renovations made to living rooms (20%), main bathrooms (18%), laundries (18%) and second bathrooms (16%). 

While Houzz found that 72% of renovations were focused on the inside the home, alterations to outdoor spaces like gardens, as well as to decks, patios and fences all increased over the past year. 

How are renos being funded?

With a median price tag of $21,000 renovations aren’t cheap, but when it comes to funding them, it appears that most Australians rely on one source: cash/savings. Houzz found that over four in five Australian renovators (81%) used their cash savings to fund projects, making it the most popular funding source. 

The second most popular was credit cards (13%), followed by cash from a previous home sale (12%), cash made available by a home loan refinance (10%) and a gift/inheritance (6%). 

When it comes to funding, one factor that can’t be discounted from the recent renovation boom is the impact of the HomeBuilder scheme which offered cash grants of up to $25,000 for new home builds as well as renovations (valued between $150,000 and $750,000). 

While the scheme has now come to an end, it appears that many would-be renovators did make use of it, as Treasury figures from June 2021 show that 25,158 people applied for a grant for the purpose of renovating. 

RELATED: The best way to fund your home renovation

Been thinking about making renovations to your own home? Check out our handy home renovation hub for a range of expert guides which walk through everything from ways to add value to your home to tips for making sustainable renovations.

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