As the holidays quickly approach, the majority of homeowners in the United States are bracing for a very unprecedented season. Under normal circumstances, Americans travel extensively during the winter‚ to celebrate important holidays with family and friends. In December 2019, AAA predicted a record-breaking 115.6 million Americans would travel for the holiday season. But this 2020 holiday season will be like no other. 

COVID-19 has disrupted every sector —and most aspects— of our lives. The travel industry has suffered catastrophic damages due to the pandemic. In September, S&P Global released a new market intelligence report, listing the airline industry is the most impacted sector during COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus. 

To better understand how homeowners will approach the upcoming holiday season, we surveyed more than 5,000 Modernize homeowners to learn about their travel plans. 

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Home for the Holidays 

As of October 5, 2020, across trades, 76 percent of homeowners said they will not travel this holiday season. 

Homeowner Holiday Travel in 2020:

  • 76% will not travel this holiday season
  • 3% will travel less
  • 5% will travel their normal amount
  • 2% will travel more 
  • 14% still unsure of travel plans. 

At Modernize, we wanted to understand how this dramatic change to plans would impact home improvement plans. As colder weather arrives —and homeowners focus on travel— most home improvement plans are often paused until the spring. Through our surveys, we saw a notable change to past trends. The majority of homeowners —55 percent— will begin or continue home improvement projects this season. 

Home Improvement for the Holiday: 

  • 28% will pursue exterior projects
  • 10% will pursue interior projects
  • 17% will pursue interior and exterior projects

Budgeting and Spending During COVID-19

In 2019, NerdWallet predicted 45 percent of Americans (roughly 114 million adults) would use cash on flights and/or hotels over the holidays. Last year, it was predicted travelers would spend $1,393. With the majority of homeowners not traveling this holiday season, there are more wanting to invest in interior and exterior projects.

In our holiday-focused survey, we asked homeowners how much money they planned to allocate to all of their home improvement projects this winter. We learned 48 percent of homeowners plan to spend between $1,000 and $10,000 on home improvement projects. Another 11 percent of homeowners plan to spend more than $10,000.

Holiday Home Improvement Allocation:

  • 41% plan to spend less than $1,000 
  • 31% plan to spend between $1,001 and $5,000
  • 16% plan to spend between $5,001 and $10,000
  • 6% plan to spend between $10,001 and $15,000
  • 5% plan to spend more than $15,000 

It is also important to consider how homeowners plan to pay for their budgeted projects. Our surveys revealed 39 percent of homeowners, across trades, plan to pay with cash this winter. 

How Homeowners Plan to Finance Their Projects:

  • 39% will pay with cash
  • 17% will pay with credit cards
  • 26% will seek financing/loans
  • 18% will use other means, including payment plans and insurance claims 

While most homeowners noted paying for their projects with cash, this is not always a viable option for every household. Your finance options will vary depending on your specific project, but using a home equity loan or line of credit, personal loan, FHA mortgage or loan, mortgage refinances, or credit cards are all popular ways to afford a home improvement when paying in cash isn’t possible. 

Many contractors offer financing to help homeowners complete their projects. As you speak with contractors about your upcoming project, be sure to ask about financing options. Additionally, we offer a detailed guide to your financing options to help you pick an option that’s right for your household.

Embarking on Home Improvement Projects This Winter

Most home improvement projects are started and completed during the spring or fall seasons— when the weather is more comfortable and predictable. However, most homeowners are not aware that beginning a home improvement project during high season likely impacts their estimate and project timeline. 

During these warmer months, contractors and supplies are in high demand. Contractors are less likely to offer discounts during peak times. 

There are many advantages to beginning a home improvement project during the off-season.

Save Money with Seasonal Sales

While construction slows in the winter, contractors still have a business to operate. To entice homeowners, many contractors will offer discounts and specials to attract business during the colder months. Take advantage of these seasonal offers to save money on your project.

Enjoy Easier Scheduling

During high season, it can take a few weeks to meet with busy contractors and order supplies from manufacturers. During the winter months, contractors are often more flexible. Materials may often be less expensive and take less time to ship.

Save Money With Increased Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient home improvements —like windows, doors, and heating upgrades— can immediately begin saving you money this winter. Homeowners can see reduced costs on utility bills, and enjoy a warmer, more comfortable home. 

Don’t Stress About Cold Weather Affecting Projects and Installations

Many homeowners are concerned that winter weather will impact their installation, including caulking, adhesives, and materials. Products are made to perform under all weather conditions. Contractors and remodelers are skilled at making sure your home remains comfortable throughout the installation. For example, contractors will replace one window at a time to avoid significant heat and energy loss in your home.

Find a Contractor or Remodeler You Trust This Winter

Whether you’re looking to add solar panels to your home, upgrade your bathroom, or replacing your home’s siding, you will need to find a contractor you can trust— a local professional who can get the job done quickly and correctly. 

To determine the best professional fit for your project, consider the following:

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
  • Ask each contractor on the phone the following questions:
    • How long have you been in business?
    • How much experience do you have with gutter repair or installation?
    • What is your project estimate?
    • Can you provide a list of references? Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

You can also refer to the free Modernize Contractor Checklist, which will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your project is in good hands. For more than 15 years, Modernize has helped pair homeowners with home improvement professionals. We look forward to helping you with your home improvement project this winter.