The more time you spend at home, the more time you can spend analyzing what could be better about where you live. That fact, combined with more free time as people spent less time traveling and entertaining themselves out of the house, led many homeowners to tackle home improvement projects during the pandemic.
A recent survey of homeowners conducted by Bid-on-Equipment found that 89% made some type of improvement to their home during the pandemic, and 1 in 10 made an improvement to their homes for the very first time during the last year. The survey also found that the majority of homeowners (30%) spent between $1,000 and $5,000 on their home improvement project, with an average spend of $3,797.
The survey also asked homeowners what home improvement projects they tackled. Here are the 11 most popular projects — plus, how much they typically cost.
Last updated: May 24, 2021
The Bid-on-Equipment survey found that 86% of homeowners made improvements to the exterior of their homes during the pandemic. This includes exterior painting, landscaping and fence installation. The costs of these projects vary — the average cost to paint a home’s exterior is $2,960, the average cost to install landscaping is $3,423 and the average cost to install a fence is $2,842, according to HomeAdvisor.
Although landscaping can be the most expensive project, homeowners can get a good return on their investment.
“Landscaping can and does add value to the home,” said Jeff Johnson, owner and acquisition manager at Simple Homebuyers. “Studies have shown that the value added to a home with landscaping can go up to nearly 13%. Gardens are integral parts of a complete home, which is why they have the potential to add value.”
The survey found that 65% of homeowners remodeled a bathroom or multiple bathrooms during the pandemic. The average bathroom remodel costs $10,778, according to HomeAdvisor. This was likely a popular project because it has both short- and long-term benefits for homeowners.
“Bathrooms-turned-spas were hugely popular as we looked for new ways to escape and relax,” said Ted Roberts, style and design expert for smart lock brand Schlage.
And the improvements made now will pay off when it’s time to resell. Bathroom remodels “add the most value to a property and are also the most difficult to renovate and upgrade, so future buyers will place a premium on renovated space,” said Daren Herzberg, a licensed associate real estate broker with the Babst + Herzberg Team at Compass in New York City.
Kitchen remodels were the third most common pandemic project, with 43% of homeowners taking on this home improvement. The average cost of a kitchen remodel is $25,544 or $150 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor.
“With limited restaurant options and more time spent at home, people decided it was time to remodel the kitchen,” said Andra DelMonico, home improvement and interior design expert at Trendey. “For many homeowners, a kitchen update is on the list of things to do, but they never quite get around to it. The pandemic presented the perfect combination of available time and increased frustration.”
Although a kitchen remodel is an expensive understanding, it can increase a home’s value — in some cases.
“This home improvement project only increases the home value if it’s done well and has a universal appeal,” DelMonico said. “Highly individualized updates can hurt a home’s value.”
Which Should You Update First in Your House: Kitchen or Bathroom?
Living Room Upgrades
The Bid-on-Equipment survey found that 38% of homeowners made improvements to their living rooms. The cost for this project will depend on the scope, but even just refurnishing can be costly. The average retail cost to furnish a basic living room ranges from $2,050 to $3,150, according to the interior design company Funishr.
Dining Room Upgrades
About a fifth of homeowners (21%) completed a dining room improvement project, the survey found. If you’re redecorating from scratch, it can cost around $12,000 to furnish a dining room, according to Kathy Kuo Home.
Primary Bedroom Improvements
Twenty percent of homeowners made upgrades to their home’s primary bedroom amid the pandemic. The cost to furnish a basic bedroom ranges from $880 to $2,300, according to Funishr.
According to the survey, 17% of homeowners made improvements to their entryways. The cost of this project will vary depending on what was done, but if the improvements involved adding wallpaper, that costs an average of $509, according to HomeAdvisor. Christian Fuentes, broker/owner at RE/MAX Top Producers in Diamond Bar, California, said that adding wallpaper was a top pandemic decorating trend.
“Wallpaper design [can] bring some interest to the room,” he said. “These are easy, inexpensive projects that homeowners can do in a weekend, but they can add great value to a home.”
Seventeen percent of homeowners made improvements to their garage over the past year. The cost of a garage-related project can range from an average of $243 to repair a garage door to $14,304 to renovate or convert a garage to a home office space, according to HomeAdvisor. Depending on where you live, making this conversion can pay off in terms of a value add for reselling.
“For anyone who is thinking of doing this same conversion, you should first find out how valuable parking space is in the area you live in,” said Andrew Wilson, a home improvement contractor and contributor at Contractor Advisorly. “If living area square footage is considered more valuable than garage space, this conversion can increase your home value anywhere between 10%-20%. Otherwise, it can also decrease it by 5%-15%.”
With more time spent at home, homeowners likely wanted to make use of every square foot available to them, so it’s no wonder that 13% used this time for a basement renovation. Basement remodels cost $20,428 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.
“People with underground space in their homes have remained fairly active throughout the pandemic, designing basements and turning them into bars or dens to hang out with friends and family,” said Matt Bigach, real estate expert and co-founder of Nexus HomeBuyers. “People have shifted their focus on using their energy on something that can provide them comfort or entertainment.”
A finished basement can also add to a home’s value.
“It can definitely increase the resale value of your house as you have designed a whole empty space into something that can be used for a long time,” Bigach said. “Basements were trendy during the early 1990s and are coming back in fashion due to the creative minds of people during the pandemic.”
Secondary Bedroom Renovations
Eleven percent of homeowners remodeled a secondary bedroom or bedrooms. Many homeowners converted a spare bedroom into a home office space during the pandemic, said Tomas Satas, founder and CEO at Windy City HomeBuyer. The cost of this project can range from $400 to $3,000, according to the home and garden blog Home Stratosphere.
“This can be a valuable addition moving forward since the work-from-home paradigm looks to continue well after the pandemic,” Satas said. “It’s one of the driving forces in the current post-pandemic real estate boom.”
Entire Home Renovation
A handful of ambitious homeowners — 4% — decided to remodel their entire home during the pandemic. A project of this scope costs an average of $46,754, with most home remodels/renovations costing between $18,159 and $76,379, according to HomeAdvisor.