Some home remodeling jobs bring more ‘joy’ than others

Spending more time at home has meant more home renovation projects. Americans spent $420 billion on renovations in 2020.

And, for homeowners with the budget, renovating can become addictive.



“That’s what I think is really interesting, is that they not only wanted to remodel one room, but once they completed one big remodel, they turned to another part of their house and said, ‘Wait, I want to do that too,’” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry reports 60% of its members said the scale of remodeling projects grew either into a larger project or remodeling more than one room due to the pandemic.

The National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry conducted a joint study, the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report, to determine the most popular homeowner renovations, and which resulted in the most owner satisfaction, with a “Joy Score.”

The Joy Score is a combination of happiness and satisfaction combined on a scale of one to 10. And many of those ranking highest are not major projects.

“Just painting. Putting on a new coat of paint is really a high Joy Score. Also things that tack on energy efficiency like new insulation. And a closet,” Lautz said.

A new garage door, a new roof and adding or improving a home office also get top marks.

Renovations add to a home’s value when it comes time to sell, and the report also looked at projects that have the highest return on investment.

Installing or refinishing hardwood floors not only rank high on the Joy Score scale, both also top the list for best return on investment. Interestingly, refinishing old hardwood floors has a better return on investment — an average 147% — than installing new hardwood floors -an average of 118%.

“I think it shines in photos. Maybe people want the character of the home still there. It could very well be that people just like older homes and the character,” Lautz said.

Among exterior projects, new roofing and a new garage door both recover 100% of the project’s cost.

While the pandemic may have increased the need or desire for home renovations, the report found that 83% of homeowners who recently have completed projects said they would have remodeled regardless of the pandemic.

The full NAR and NARI 2022 Remodeling Impact report is posted online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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