Are Home Repairs Being Put Off Because of COVID-19? We Asked 1,000 People to Find Out.
In a list of 100 different things you can do to help pass the time during quarantine, you might not be surprised to discover that a majority of these activities happen in the same place: your home. And while you may have moved past the sourdough starter phase or the adult coloring book trend, you could still be looking for things you can do inside, because that’s where most Americans are spending their time these days.
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All that time indoors has some people thinking more critically about the state of their home. With so many people working remotely — many with partners also working from home or children who are distance learning — the strain on our spaces has reached its zenith.
So how are Americans dealing with space issues since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and how many are taking on or putting off major home renovations? To find out, we surveyed 1,000 people about how they’re keeping up with home repairs during quarantine. Read on as we explore how many people have delayed repairs or maintenance since the pandemic began, how people are paying for the projects they can take on and which areas of the home have become a primary focus for most families.
According to our 1,000 respondents, 70% of homeowners acknowledged postponing home repairs on their property since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Among those, we found 38% delayed small nonessential repairs, while 19% of homeowners delayed critical repairs on their homes, and 13% delayed both. In some cases, delaying home improvements or maintenance — even seemingly minor projects like caulking or a small water leak — can lead to major home damage over time and more costly repairs.
More than half of respondents, 59%, said they believe it’s acceptable to put off critical home repairs during the pandemic. Of those who delayed repairs on their homes, 47% reported the setback was a result of having fallen into debt. One in 5 homeowners admitted the outstanding repairs needed on their house posed a risk. Nearly 1 in 10 homeowners couldn’t say for sure whether the repairs they were delaying posed any danger to their household.
Home Maintenance During the Pandemic
Like much of our daily life during the pandemic, a majority of Americans have also made changes to their personal finances due to COVID-19. In addition to the 39% who cut their monthly expenses and more than a quarter who increased the amount of money they’re putting into savings, others have been forced to take on more credit card debt, defer paying their bills, or even borrow against their retirement savings. Many Americans have expressed feeling concerned about their financial situation during the pandemic.
Among those putting off repairs due to financial stress, we found broken appliances (34%), water damage (31%), electrical issues (30%), and roof repairs (29%) were the most commonly deferred tasks. Maintenance concerns, like water damage, can feel daunting, but the overall cost of repairs is typically contingent upon the extent of the damage. The longer these types of damage go unattended, the more expensive they may be to ultimately repair.
The appliance repairs homeowners most often put off due to financial stress during the pandemic included those needed on their washing machine (21%), water heater (20%), refrigerator (20%) and dishwasher (18%).
Making Room in the Budget for Repairs
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the way people are spending and saving money. While certain types of expenses — such as dining out, traveling and entertainment — may have declined significantly due to the virus and quarantine measures, others have escalated. Online shopping has grown tremendously in 2020, people are spending more money on household cleaning supplies than in years past, and they’re spending more to accommodate working and learning from home comfortably.
Among homeowners needing to finance repairs during the pandemic, we found the most common options were withdrawing money from their savings account (50%), using credit cards (37%) and paying with their checking account (31%). While less common, respondents also reported taking out family loans (20%), withdrawing their investments (16%) and borrowing money from a friend (15%) as solutions for funding their home repairs.
The most common repairs being completed during the pandemic typically cost under $400. Repairing or replacing the refrigerator ($399) or sink ($154) and addressing electrical issues ($283) and AC repair ($364) topped the list of most frequented repairs. Less than 12% of respondents indicated having completed two of the most expensive improvements: roof repairs ($700) and HVAC system repairs ($717). More than 1 in 3 respondents also admitted regretting paying for repairs they had done during the pandemic.
The Cost of Major Maintenance
Overwhelmingly, 80% of homeowners reported needing another stimulus check to complete critical home repairs. In the meantime, 30% of homeowners had to change their plans to either move or sell their home due to outstanding repairs left uncompleted.
Protecting Your Home From Damage
Many Americans who are spending more time in their homes are less satisfied with their space since the pandemic began. According to our survey, a majority of homeowners are delaying home repairs during the pandemic, and many of these people are worried about how to afford the cost of this necessary maintenance. Beyond broken appliances, other major repair issues included water damage, electrical issues, and roof repair.
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Methodology and Limitations
For this project we surveyed 1,000 people responsible for their home to find if they’ve delayed any home repairs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Survey respondents were gathered through the Amazon Mechanical Turk survey platform where they were presented with a series of questions, including attention-check and disqualification questions. 51% of respondents identified as men, while 49% identified as women. Participants had an average age of 39 years old and a standard deviation of 12 years. Any participant incorrectly answering any attention check-question had their answers disqualified. Participants who were not responsible for the financial upkeep of their home were also disqualified. Please note that survey responses are self-reported and are subject to issues, such as exaggeration, recency bias, and more.
Fair Use Statement
Are your readers trying to balance maintenance they know needs to get done in their house with the options for paying for these repairs? We encourage you to share the results of this study for any noncommercial use with the inclusion of a link back to this page as credit to our team of creative contributors who helped make this report possible.