COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our daily lives and routines. Self-distancing and shelter-in-place measures, nationwide, have elevated the importance of feeling comfortable, secure, and safe within our homes. Many homeowners are turning to home improvement projects and renovations as a respite during this challenging time. 

Hardware stores are seeing an increase in demand, but not all projects are safe for homeowners to attempt. If you are considering a large scale project, like an air conditioning or heating replacement, you will need a professional. Now can be the perfect time to begin speaking with contractors and planning your project. 

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Many contractors are considered an “essential business” 

The New York Times reports that 311 million homeowners, in 41 states, are currently staying at home to help decrease the reach of the novel Coronavirus. Many areas have been ordered to “shelter-in-place,” which allows only “essential businesses” to operate. Residential contractors have been deemed an “essential business” in many states, including Arizona, California, Illinois, and Texas. 

Home improvements are necessary for maintaining the safety and essential operation of your home. Instead of risking your physical safety during a DIY attempt, it is important to find a professional. 

First, begin researching your project

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 93 percent of homeowners shared they will spend between 5 and 10 hours researching their large-scale projects. 

We offer hundreds of educational articles and resources to help you plan for your air conditioner replacement, including: 

Begin meeting with contractors— virtually! 

As we are learning to adjust and adapt to safety measures in place, so are our contractors. Many contractors are now offering free virtual appointments. In our most recent survey, we learned up to 40 percent of homeowners are interested in a virtual consultation with local contractors. 

During this time of self-distancing, take advantage of flexibility in your schedule to speak with local contractors. We recommend comparing three to four quotes ahead of your project. Evaluating multiple quotes will help you scope your budget. It will also encourage contractors to be competitive with their pricing. 

Contractors, like all of us, are navigating this time with their families. They understand today’s current “new normal” might include barking dogs and a full house. However, these brief, informative meetings can help you prepare for next steps with your project. 

Vet your contractors and ask about new COVID-19 procedures

Talking to contractors does not have to be overwhelming. We have compiled essential questions to ask to help ensure your foundational bases are covered. 

The Coronavirus will also naturally spark new questions. Contractors are actively updating their tools, policies, and materials to follow national and local recommended guidelines— keeping you and their team safe during this time. 

Feel comfortable discussing the impact of COVID-19 with your contractor, including:

  • How are you keeping your homeowners and staff safe?
  • What new procedures are in place?
  • How are project timelines and installations being impacted? 
  • Do you have any special offers during this time? 

The best contractor for your project will be transparent about how they are prioritizing safety. 

Take advantage of mortgage rates and financing 

From our homeowner surveys, we know that more than 80 percent of homeowners would like to finance part (if not all) of their home improvement project. If you would like to finance your upcoming project, this may be an ideal time. 

In March, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates by 1.5 percentage points. This, along with other efforts, is to help protect the economy from the catastrophic impact of COVID-19. Also last month, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported refinancing applications increased 79 percent, week over week. 

By starting projects now, you will be able to take advantage of these recent changes and save on your project costs. Many contractors offer competitive interest rates. If you are looking for financing for your HVAC project, discuss options with your contractor. 

Lastly, large projects take time

At Modernize, we are experts on large-scale, essential, home improvement projects. Our trades often require a great deal of research, budgeting, and coordination between homeowners and their contractors. 

By speaking with contractors now, you take the first step gathering essential information from a trusted source. Compare estimates so you can save or seek financing. You control the timeline for an installation that works best for you and your family. Despite this challenging time in history, you may be surprised that you can begin (and complete) your project swiftly and safely.