Desire for New Amenities: Still the Top Reason to Remodel


According to remodelers who answered special questions on NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI) survey for the 1st quarter of 2017, a simple “desire for better/newer amenities” once again ranked as the number one reason customers choose to remodel their homes. On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 indicates never or almost never, and 5 is very often), the average remodeler’s response was 4.4.

Also once again, “need to repair/replace old components” finished in second place, edged out by “desire for better/newer amenities” by one tenth of a point. These traditional drivers were the only reasons to remodel that with an average rating above 4.0.  Another fairly traditional reason, “desire/need for more space” came in third at 3.8.The same three reasons appeared at the top of the list, and in the same order, last year. In fact, the average ratings fell in the same order for all eleven reasons to remodel included on both this year’s and last year’s surveys.

Nevertheless, there were a few differences between the last two iterations of the questions. The average ratings for “desire for better/newer amenities,” “need to repair/replace old components,” “repairing a damaged property,” and “energy efficiency/environmental concerns” each increased by one-tenth of a point.  The desire to “avoid moving/buying another home” increased by two tenths of a point.  No motivation for remodeling showed a decline in the average rating since last year.

It is sometimes easier to see historical changes by looking at share of remodelers who checked the top options, 4 or 5, in response to the questions about how customers cite particular reasons for remodeling. Since the first time NAHB asked these questions (in 2012), the 4-5 shares are currently at a record high for “desire for better/newer amenities,” “need to repair/replace old components,” and “want to avoid moving/buying another home.”“Desire for better/newer amenities” and “need to repair/replace old components,” however, set their respective record highs by very narrow margins. Only the share for “desire to avoid moving” was substantially higher than it had ever been before.

On the other hand, the recent increases in “repairing a damaged property” and “energy efficiency/ environmental concerns” still left them well below their historic peaks of a few years ago.The only new reason to remodel added to this year’s questionnaire was “to accommodate multi-generational living.” For awhile, NAHB has been hearing anecdotal stories about the emerging significance of multi-generational living, including as a factor that may lead to additional remodeling activity.  “Multi-generational living” finished toward the bottom of the list of reasons to remodel in the first quarter 2017 RMI survey, however—ahead only of the two categories that deal with getting existing properties ready to sell.

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