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Home renovation in 14 countries all over the world

A Houzz survey carried out on more than 200,000 website users doing renovation works shows ongoing different approaches

by Nicola Tedeschini

Well, yes: home sweet home is always home. From United States to Australia, from Japan to Spain, the will to renovate someone’s old home seems to be stronger than that of buying a brand new house. This is what reveals a study carried out by houzz.com, an online platform providing consumers with everything they need to improve their homes. Founded and still based in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley, which also gave birth to Google and Facebook, the Californian company boasts over 40 million unique users every month. For Houzz&Home Survey ‘s last edition, which was carried out by Farnsworth Group independent researchers, 229,541 returning visitors to the site and coming from 14 highly industrialized countries were interviewed between May and June in order to understand the ongoing dynamics in real estate.
Well, in 2015, in Germany and New Zealand, only 10% of the sample stated they had bought  brand new apartments and houses. On the contrary, renovation was preferred by over 60% of the people interviewed in both the US and Canada, while United Kingdom registered 57%, slightly more than Australia and New Zealand. As to minor refurbishment works, in France and again in the UK seven people out of ten said to have carried out  decoration and home-furnishing in their own homes; in Sweden this was true for six people out of ten.

What clearly appears, therefore, is a cultural trend shared by a good part of European and overseas countries: the trend to personalize one’s own home according to personal taste. Western consumers prefer to live in a place where they can feel they own it, rather than in brand new houses – as stylish as they may be. It’s a matter of heart and affection: in Australia, Scandinavia and North America, half of the people who started renovation in 2015 explained to have chosen remodeling because of strong feelings with the place they live in, which would be very difficult to leave. But it’s not a matter of psychological paralysis, nor has something to do with money. From New York to Paris, few are the responders to the Houzz survey stating that remodeling was due to the minor costs it entailed compared to a straight purchase.
Basically, the stagnation which part of the Western Countries have yet to fully overcome, shouldn’t be taken into much consideration. In the UK, according to the Houzz survey, the total average expenditure for renovation amounted to 58,013 euros per year, while Germany came second with 57,000 euros. Then come the US (54,939€) and Canada (53,830€), and then Australia (45,846€). But to further proof that home improvement doesn’t necessary depend on national wealth, Spain, happily recovering after a strong crisis in the construction sector, performs rather differently (26,200€), not only compared to the countries above mentioned but also compared to other Mediterranean countries such as France (37,000€) and Italy (44,400€), which remains uncertain. Generally speaking, moreover, one can say that home owners in the fourteen countries examined don’t like to risk too much: at least 70% of renovation is self-financed, while other forms of financing such as bank loans only account for 30% of expenditure. If it is true that in Russia almost half of the people interviewed admitted to exceeding renovation budget, such a percentage sharply drops in all other countries.

Ambienti-maggiormente-rinnovati
As to the distribution of the sums reported above, they can vary according to cultural differences in the different countries. But it remains a fact that US consumers have spent on average 34,000€ to renovate the main bathroom (13,396€) and the kitchen (20,439€), which are felt as a priority almost everywhere else, often more so than the living room and at least as much as the bedrooms. In particular, the British, Swedish and Australians have spent around 13 thousand euros each to refurbish their kitchen cabinets and cooking areas. The Germans  instead devoted their money to improving their bathroom (12,220 euros on average). This % breakdown is a very important element for the construction chain, from ceramic manufacturers downwards, especially considering that in all Houzz-examined countries at least 75% of renovation works were handed on to specialised professionals – with Ireland and the UK registering over 90%.

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