PHOTO COURTESY PAULA RYAN
An open-floor plan kitchen designed by Paula Ryan Designs.

A recent survey conducted by House Method, an organization that provides expert research on home-service providers for consumers, polled 1,000 American homeowners with experience in home renovations to better understand their sentiments about the renovation process and to learn the details about the overall outcome of their project.

The remodeling trends that emerged from the data showed that the bathroom was the most popular room to renovate, with the kitchen coming in as a close second. The largest demographic of renovators was made up of Gen X, those born between 1965-1980, and millennials, those born between 1981-1996.

Reality did not always align with expectations. Nearly half of homeowners extended the completion deadline past their original timeline and 80% reported going over budget by at least $500.

Are rising mortgage rates, a volatile housing market and inflation the motivating factors behind the trend to renovate versus buying? Area contractors say the remodeling trend is prevalent in the Springfield area, along with other parts of the county.

Curt Trampe, owner of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, 3730 Wabash Ave., said that area home sales may have slowed slightly, but the market is still strong. When there's movement in the housing market, it's good for business, because people want to make changes to their existing homes. "We have not seen a drop-off in business; it's not as crazy as it was last year, but it is still strong," he said. Trampe said his company is currently scheduling five months out, which is a manageable pace, since it allows time to order and receive materials.

Paula Ryan, owner of Paula Ryan Designs, 3149 Hedley Road, said it seems people are still doing home renovations that were ideas generated during the beginning of the pandemic when people were inside their homes more than usual. She feels the pandemic contributed to the rise in remodeling in several ways.

Some homeowners have more disposable income because they haven't traveled due to COVID, and they are investing in their homes. Plus, there aren't many homes on the market to choose from and home prices are inflated, so it makes sense to put money into their existing home. Ryan said she is "steadily getting busier."

Both Trampe and Ryan agree that the kitchen and bathroom are the most popular rooms to add on or remodel.

"Generally," Ryan said, "the kitchen is the most popular and then the master bathroom." To be clear, she said, "The kitchen renovation is usually not just a kitchen, due to the popularity of the open-floor plan." The kitchen often flows into another space, such as the laundry room or living room, which also means that the budget for a kitchen remodel is going to be much more than a bathroom remodel.

Trampe said, "The most popular room to renovate is whatever is giving the homeowner the most pain at the time, whether that might be a laundry room in need of more storage and a sink, or more room for the kids to play in the basement." But he said that bathrooms and kitchens are about equal in terms of popularity at DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen.

Regarding going over budgets for time and money, Ryan and Trampe said that is much less likely to happen with an experienced contractor who knows what to expect. If a client decides to add to the scope of a project once it's in process, that will add time and money, and that is understood by all parties. But when someone takes on a renovation project themselves, going over budget in time and money is very likely to happen.

HGTV and some social media sites make renovation work look much simpler than it actually is, and sometimes people get into a project and call in a professional when they realize they are in over their head. Trampe and Ryan educate their clients up front about the reality of time and money involved in a project, including supply chain issues and how long it can take to actually receive some materials. Trampe said cabinets that used to be delivered in four weeks are now taking four months.

When it comes to the demographic doing the most renovation in the Springfield area, Ryan said she is seeing mostly Gen X, or the people who have put their kids through college and now have the money and motivation to update their homes. Trampe said the demographic most frequently visiting DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen are people ages 50-70, and mostly females. He said, "It might be couples waking in the door, but the female is driving the bus."

Holly A. Whisler is the associate editor of Springfield Business Journal. She limits the DIY projects to paint and pillows and hires the experts for the big projects.

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