Home Remodeling Surge Coming: Here's Why

July 10, 2015

Due to the number of households belonging to older adults rising, and an aging housing stock,  home remodeling is likely to see a dramatic uptick in the coming years, according to a recent blog post at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies' Housing Perspectives.

As the baby boomer generation ages, many home owners likely will choose to "age in place" and will require remodeling to better suit their changing needs.

"Since much of the housing stock is currently ill-equipped with even basic accessibility features, older home owners aging in place will need to invest in retrofitting their homes in order to age comfortably and safely," writes Abbe Will, researcher analyst for JCHS.

Older home owners have already been having a "significant influence" on the home remodeling market due, a recent analysis by JCHS finds.

"Since 2007, the share of total market spending for home improvements by owners age 55 and over has increased considerably, from less than a third to nearly a half by 2013," according to JCHS.

Home improvement expenditures by older home owners topped $90 billion in 2013 and could surge by an extra $17 billion annually over the next three years, according to JCHS.

Of the more than 25 million households age 65 and over, 44 percent have some need for home accessibility features due to a disability or difficulty using components of a home, such as kitchen or bathroom facilities.

"Yet the current housing stock is not especially equipped to meet the accessibility needs of an aging nation, as not even a third of homes have what could be considered basic accessibility features, such as a no-step entry and bedroom and full bathroom on the entry level," JCHS's analysis notes.

What's more, construction of new housing with basic accessibility features is expected to fall far short of meeting the rise in demand. For example, 40 percent of the net gain in households age 65 and older with accessibility needs in the Northeast and Midwest alone are projected to have unmet demand.

This suggests "the need for significant retrofit spending on existing homes to narrow this supply-demand gap," the JCHS analysis notes. Meanwhile, "older households in the South and West regions of the country are already better accommodated for aging in place, with relatively more homes in these regions having basic accessibility features, and this trend is not expected to change over the coming decade."

Source: "Aging Society and Inaccessible Housing Stock Suggest Growing Need for Remodeling," Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies' Housing Perspectives Blog (July 8, 2015)