Houzz Research Identifies Common Renovation Projects by Home Age

September 21, 2022

Is Your House Ready for a Checkup? New Houzz research identifies common renovation projects by home age.

Depending on the year your home was built, you might be noticing that your air conditioning unit could use a checkup or that your roof needs a little love. Perhaps your house is in great condition, but new technology has hit the market that you want to install. Home age impacts the types of projects that homeowners prioritize, according to findings from the 2022 Houzz & Home Study. Houzz analyzed the renovation activity of more than 70,000 respondents to understand the types of projects that typically arise when a home reaches a certain age. 

“One of the driving factors for home renovation and design in the U.S. is our limited and aging housing stock,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz staff economist. “With interest rates and mortgage rates on the rise, many homeowners are choosing to stay in their homes and pursue renovations that tailor their space to their current needs. Others may move to fixer-uppers, which typically have a lower cost threshold for entering homeownership. Our research reveals common themes among renovating homeowners to provide guidance on the types of projects that may be anticipated based on the age of each home.”   

Homeowners with houses built between 1961 and 1980, and between 1981 and 2000, invest the most in renovations, with each group spending a median level of $20,000 — 11% above the national median ($18,000). Meanwhile, owners of homes built in 1960 or earlier spend the same amount as the national median. Unsurprisingly, owners of homes built after 2000 spend the least on upgrades — $15,000, 17% below the national median. Regardless of home age, more than 9 in 10 homeowners (89% minimum) turn to home professionals for help with their projects.

Houzz Projects by Home Age

Homes Built in 1960 or Earlier

Homes built in 1960 or earlier tend to be smaller than those built during other eras; more than half (51%) of renovated homes built during this time period measure less than 2,000 square feet. Larger homes potentially have grown from their original size, as 1 in 10 owners (10%) increased the footprint with an addition in 2021 alone.   

Homeowners in this group focus on maintenance-related home system upgrades, including plumbing (35%), electrical (33%) and heating (24%); efficiency standards and technology advancements might play a role in this. For example, many everyday technologies, such as personal computers, were invented after the 1960s, which has led to the need for more electrical outlets. Likely due to the technical nature of these projects, 2 in 5 homeowners (43%) rely on electricians, while more than one-third hire plumbers and air conditioning or heating professionals (37% and 33%, respectively).

Homes from this era are most likely to receive exterior upgrades (64%), compared with those built between 1961 and 1980 (62%), between 1981 and 2000 (60%), and in 2000 or later (45%). Topping the list of exterior projects among homes built in 1960 or earlier are roofing (26%), windows or skylights (25%), gutters or downspouts (23%), paint (23%) and doors (23%). Interestingly, nearly 1 in 5 homeowners (19%) upgrades insulation, which started being regulated in 1965.

Half of those (50%) who own homes built prior to 1960 are baby boomers, followed by Gen Xers (33%), millennials (14%) and seniors (3%).

Homes Built Between 1961 and 1980

Interior spaces are the most popular projects across home age, and nearly three-quarters of owners (73%) of homes built between 1961 and 1980 prioritize these rooms. Following national activity trends, kitchens (29%) and bathrooms (28%) are the most commonly renovated spaces, followed by living or family rooms (23%) and bedrooms (19%).

These homeowners also focus on home system upgrades, such as plumbing (32%), electrical (30%) and home automation (25%). The latter is unsurprising, as home automation increased in popularity in the early 2000s, after these homes were built. Electricians and plumbers are the two most common home pros hired to help with projects (41% and 37% respectively). 

Similar to homes built prior to 1961, the majority of these structures (41%) are less than 2,000 square feet. Among homeowners, 54% are baby boomers, 30% are Gen Xers, 11% are millennials and 4% are seniors. 

Homes Built Between 1981 and 2000

Homes built between 1981 and 2000 tend to be a bit larger than older homes, with 2 in 5 (35%) spanning 3,000 square feet or more. 

Owners in this category focus almost equally on various home projects, such as plumbing (26%), home automation (25%), security (22%), cooling (22%) and electrical (22%). Similar to home automation, security systems began increasing in popularity in the early 2000s due to the development of new wireless features. Homeowners in this group are the most likely to hire professionals to assist with their projects (92% versus 89% of homeowners in each of the other three categories). Electricians, plumbers, and air conditioning or heating professionals are the pros hired most often among this group (39%, 36% and 36%, respectively).

Baby Boomers comprise the largest group of owners in this category of homes — and the largest compared with other home age categories — at 61%, followed by Gen Xers (27%), millennials (8%) and seniors (4%). 

Houzz Projects by Home Age

Homes Built in 2001 or Later

Newly built homes have grown in size over the years. Homes built after 2000 tend to be much larger than older homes, with more than 2 in 5 (42%) measuring 3,000 square feet or more and only 1 in 5 (21%) measuring less than 2,000 square feet. 

With newer homes, owners focus on luxury-type projects, such as home automation (22%) and security (21%), as there is less need for maintenance on systems such as plumbing (16%), cooling (16%) and electrical (14%). That said, electricians, plumbers and air conditioning or heating professionals are still the most common professionals hired to assist with projects (37%, 32% and 30%, respectively). 

Homeowners in this category are most likely to pursue outdoor projects (59%) compared with owners of homes built before 1961 (55%), between 1961 and 1980 (53%), and between 1981 and 2000 (51%). Among outdoor upgrades, the top projects for these homeowners include lighting (25%), security (19%) and irrigation (17%).

More than half of the owners of these newer homes are baby boomers (53%), while 32% are Gen Xers, 10% are millennials and 4% are seniors. 

As homes continue to get older and new requirements arise that shift the way we use our living spaces, Houzz will continue to monitor how homeowners manage the health of their homes. No matter the age of your home, it’s important to regularly undertake maintenance projects that may require professional help. You can find professionals in your area in the Houzz Pro Directory at Houzz.com/professionals.