Home Improvement Spending Motivators by Generation


Home Improvement Spending Motivators by Generation

by Jessica DuBois

Home improvement spending is up this year, and that’s because various generations are spending more on renovations than ever before. The reasoning behind this is because more individuals are buying houses and updating their homes to their liking. Millennials, Generation X, and baby boomers, all have one thing in common: they are buying homes, and spending money to fix them, but all for different reasons.


Millennials—also known as Generation Y— are individuals born between the years of 1981 to 1996. This group of individuals has been dubbed the “renovation generation,” due to the fact that they are completing the most home improvement projects to date.

There are plenty of reasons why millennials aren’t buying homes, but one of the main factors is that this generation was extremely affected by the Great Recession. Due to college debt and lack of job prospects, the labor market has been difficult and Millennials state they simply can’t afford to buy a home.

While the patterns of this generation continue to stump the real estate industry, there are some interesting insights available on millennials that are buying homes. For those people that are, they desire smaller, older homes in need of renovations. This is because they view homeownership as an investment opportunity and will be frugal in the buying process that will then allow them to make upgrades that provide the best return on investment (ROI).

Top Spending Motivators

Since this generation was affected so drastically by the recession, they are much more frugal with spending their money. While millennials are more likely to complete more home projects, they also complete extensive research before moving forward. They use the internet, and Big Box stores such as Home Depot, or Lowes, to compare prices on their project costs.

A huge motivator for spending on home improvement projects is the promise of ROI. Millennials complete home projects to increase their property value and look to improve the aesthetics and design.

Top Remodel Project

Since this generation is looking for projects that are the best investment, it only makes sense that their top remodel projects are big-ticket rooms such as the kitchen. Kitchens are considered to be the heart of the home and center of activity, so there are many reasons why it’s a good choice to invest in a remodel.

While this project can provide a good ROI—studies state an average return between 59.7 and 80.5 percent—it can also become quite costly based on the size of the renovation and materials chosen. However, it’s better to place money into the kitchen, even though minor remodels, as they have a better ROI than any bathroom remodel. Since kitchen remodeling costs can vary from one homeowner to another, it’s important to figure out an average cost for your kitchen renovation that’s specific to your area. You’ll want to do this well in advance to help determine the ROI.


Generation X

Generation X precedes millennials and is composed of individuals born between the years of 1961–1981. This generation has a higher homeownership rate compared to other generations at their age. Gen Xers are looking to buy their dream homes, and make adjustments to their liking.

Many of those that fall into this generation have families, some with young children, and others who are caring for their baby boomer parents. This is a large factor in what homes they are buying, what they are renovating, and how much they are spending throughout the process.

Top Spending Motivators

Since this generation is seeking their forever home that will accommodate their growing and aging families, they aren’t hopping on the smaller home bandwagon. These buyers need plenty of space to live comfortably, which means they require larger homes.

Larger homes mean more updates, which ultimately means more money to spend. This generation is motivated to spend money on their remodeling projects to modernize their homes. While this generation does their research and considers the internet a popular home improvement resource, many utilize at-home installation services offered by Big Box stores. If they are spending the money, they want their renovations completed correctly by a professional.

Top Remodel Project

It’s no surprise that a major bathroom remodel is a top project for Gen Xers. Many imagine having their dream on-suite, and this generation isn’t afraid to spend the money to get it. Bathrooms are a great way to relax after a long and busy day, and this generation full of working adults and families desire the option to do so.

While many home design trends can age quickly, popular bathroom trends are here to stay. More often than not, bathroom renovations consist of the addition of large walk-in showers, big bathtubs, and tiled floors. Generation X performs home improvement with the idea of remaining in their homes as they age and will follow remodeling trends to keep their homes up-to-date.

Baby Boomers

Baby boomers precede Generation X and are born between the years of 1946 to 1964. According to a study completed by Harvard University, boomers will eventually make up one-third of the home improvement market. This generation is remaining in their homes later in life than members of previous generations, and they’re completing the projects to ensure they do so easily.

While numerous people think older homeowners wish to sell their homes to downsize or find new housing accommodations, many are actually looking to make renovations. Boomers choosing to renovate over selling their home are doing so to better enjoy their retirement or to safely age in place.

Top Spending Motivators

Baby boomers are seeking out ways to “modernize” their homes in ways that also provide comfort and leisure. For those that have lived in their homes for decades, they are ready to transform the areas they don’t like. Boomers outspend the other generations— and they have the financial means to do so.

Aging in place requires modifications that will allow boomers to safely navigate through their home. For the boomers that face mobility issues, and may rely on a form of assistance (wheelchair or walker) their renovations are motivated by projects such as wider doorways or walk-in showers.

Top Remodel Project

For most baby boomers, home improvement projects are a means to an end. They’ve worked hard their entire life and now they’re ready to enjoy it. While most projects —as stated before— are completed to help age in place, a lot of projects are in support of low-maintenance and relaxation.

A popular renovation for boomers is the addition of a deck or patio. They’re retired (or soon to be) and want to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. This project is the perfect way to do so. They may look for features to their deck or patio that increase the safety such as handrails, removal of stairs, or the addition of ramps for wheelchair accessibility. Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that home modifications will vary based on the individual’s needs.


It doesn’t matter which generation you fall into, the act of spending money on home improvement projects is exciting and can help you remain happy and healthy in the place you call home for years to come.


Author Jessica Dubois has years of experience in the home improvement industry.  She has gained experience through working with homeowners and real estate agents to becoming an expert in the industry.

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