The annual Houzz Survey has found that up to 59 per cent of Australian renovating homeowners spent money and time upgrading their outdoor space, structures and landscaping. This includes landscaping, swimming pools and outdoor buildings like sheds and gazebos.
This figure is higher than most other countries covered by the Houzz survey internationally, and Houzz demographers suggest that the Australian climate and lifestyle accounts for the greater interest in maximising the potential of the outdoor space.
The survey also found that six per cent of Australian renovating homeowners built a new pool or renovated an existing one, while six per cent also hired a pool and spa service provider.
Looking at a breakdown of the renovating Australians finds that the age demographic most likely to install or upgrade a swimming pool is the Gen X category – that is, people aged between 40 and 54. Eight per cent of renovating Gen Xers chose to include a swimming pool in the plans, compared to the average of six per cent and the low of Millennials (ages 25 to 39) at three per cent.
Houzz demographers interpret the leaning towards Gen Xers as a suggestion that lifestyle changes and higher income levels are a major motivator for installing or upgrading pools.
The 160-question survey was organised by Houzz and sent to registered users of Houzz Australia and fielded in April 2019. The final sample constituted 8861 Australian respondents – of which 3784 had renovated their primary residence in 2018.
Overall, the results showed that renovation activity remained strong through 2018 with half of homeowners on Houzz renovating (50 per cent) an average of three rooms per project, at an overall median spend of $20,000.
At the higher end of the market, renovation spend in the 90th percentile reached $180,000. Baby Boomers (ages 55-74) and Gen Xers combined represent over three quarters of the renovation activity (79 per cent), at a median spend of $21,000 and $23,000, respectively. Nearly half of renovating homeowners planned to continue or begin renovations this year (47 per cent), with 41 and 35 per cent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, respectively, anticipating new projects.
“Despite a number of headwinds for the global and national economy, renovation activity
continued to keep pace in 2018 and will likely experience a robust growth in 2019,” says Houzz principal economist Nino Sitchinava.
“Pent up demand continues to drive renovation activity, while spend on discretionary projects such as kitchens continues to grow, signalling strength in consumer confidence.”
As homeowners consider whether to renovate their current home or to purchase a new home, the top two considerations for renovating are to stay in their current home or area, outranking return on investment. Wanting to stay in the current home is the biggest decision driver for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, whereas Millennials chose to stay in their current home and renovate because it was more affordable than moving.
Surprisingly, the survey found that the majority of renovating homeowners pay for renovations using cash from savings (76 per cent), followed at a distance by credit cards that can be used anywhere (19 per cent) and cash from home mortgage refinance (13 per cent). Interestingly, reliance on credit cards is higher in Millennials than in older generations.
Nine of ten renovating homeowners hired a professional in 2018 (90 per cent), with electricians, plumbers and carpenters in greatest demand (62, 51 and 40 per cent, respectively). Baby Boomers are more likely to hire professional help than Millennials by 10 per cent (93 per cent versus 83 per cent).
More than one in ten homeowners prioritise smart technology during home renovations (12 per cent), purchasing products like home assistants, streaming media players and security cameras. Baby Boomers are more likely than Gen Xers and Millennials to rank smart technology as a high priority (15 per cent versus 10 and 9 per cent, respectively), however Millennials are still incorporating the most home assistants (22 per cent), compared with one in ten Baby Boomers (11 per cent).
While improving the design and functionality of a home are the top priorities during renovations, more than two in five homeowners prioritise energy efficiency (43 per cent), replacing windows and insulation for example. This is particularly important for Baby Boomers when compared to Gen
Xers and Millennials (50 per cent versus 39 and 36 per cent, respectively).
Caption: Australians are among the keenest outdoor renovators in the world. Image: Urban Escape (SPASA National Pool of the Year Winner 2019)