The 15 Most Popular Home Upgrades – and What They Cost

Couple painting a room in their home
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

Hearing a lot of hammers and power saws in your neighborhood lately? You’re not alone.

The home remodeling market has grown by more than 50% since the recession ended, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).

That translates to almost $425 billion spent on remodeling in 2017 — and not just for high-end upgrades like granite countertops, according to the JCHS 2019 Improving America’s Housing report. Some of the most common home improvement projects are also among the most mundane.

The reasons for home improvements are varied. According to JCHS, they include:

  • Aging homes: The national median age of owner-occupied homes increased to 39 years in 2017 — up from 32 years in 2007 and 29 years in 1997, according to the report. This stems from homebuilding activity remaining below historical averages.
  • Aging homeowners: Older homeowners are increasingly seeking to improve the accessibility of their homes for the elderly or disabled. According to the report, nearly 3 million homeowners reported doing at least one accessibility-related home improvement project in 2017 — and more than 72% of them were age 55 or older.
  • Rising home prices: As home values have increased, so has home equity — meaning homeowners have more equity to tap to fund renovations.
  • Natural disasters: In 2017, 6% of home improvement spending went toward disaster repairs — up from 5.6% in 2007. And this type of spending may rise further in the two to three years following the major hurricanes and wildfires of 2017 and 2018, according to the report.

Following is a look at the most popular home improvement projects of 2017, the latest year covered by the JCHS report.

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