Tracker: Home Improvement Pros Quantify Virus Impacts

Jobs are being cancelled, delayed and scaled back.

authors Patrick O'Toole | April 15, 2020

Home improvement contractors are experiencing widespread project delays or stoppages as a result of COVID-19 stay-at-home and social distancing restrictions. Many expect these delays to last up to three months. Meanwhile, health concerns from homeowners as well as from contractors is the leading cause of these delays. These are findings from a weekly tracking poll of contractors conducted by research firm, The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute.

Results of contractor sentiment tracking from HIRI and The Farnsworth Group for the week of April 6, 2020.

Contractors will be inclined to pivot to lower-price point options for their clients— a secondary impact of the ongoing business-disruption period, says Grant Farnsworth, director of business development. “No surprise, we’re seeing a little more of a concern on the part of the homeowner, week-over-week, in regards to financing these projects.”

Large firms faring better

Project requests, and sales closure rates are lower and project sizes are becoming smaller due to COVID-19. Those firms doing $750,000 or more in annual revenue are being impacted less than smaller firms. Nearly one-fifth, or 18 percent, of those larger firms have actually seen increased sales closure rates with COVID-19. Among firms seeing more demand and higher close rates, health-and-safety related projects are leading the way. Other findings include:

  • 61 percent of contractors expect project delays of 1-3 months,
  • 52 percent bought materials online, of those 86 percent did so due to COVID-19 implications,
  • 59 percent report smaller than normal project sizes,
  • Among contractors seeing more requests/projects due to COVID-19 – The No. 1 driver is homeowners seeking solutions for health and safety in their homes.
Analysis of the contractor-sentiment tracker by Grant Farnsworth.

DIY also tracked

A second part of the HIRI-Farnsworth Group poll focuses on the do-it-yourself or DIY sentiment among homeowners. COVID-19 is a dominant reason for starting DIY projects with nearly all DIY respondents stating they’ve started projects due to impacts of COVID. Week-over-week, the poll indicates increasing activity in the Northeast and Midwest states. Other DIY findings include:

  • 86 percent indicate that the impact of COVID caused them to start a DIY project,
  • 68 percent are planning to start a DIY project in the next few weeks,
  • Among those starting projects, many are planning multiple projects—top planned projects include painting and lawn and garden,
  • 40 percent plan to do more DIY work than normal in the coming weeks.
Analysis of the DIY-sentiment tracker by Grant Farnsworth.

The COVID-19 tracking poll is conducted weekly. It will continue for the next few months. The DIY panel consists of 1,000 DIYers. The contractor panel consists of 350 owners and executives. QR

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