Older homeowners spent over $84 billion on home improvement projects in 2021, an amount that is expected to grow significantly as baby boomers modify their homes in order to age in place. Those findings are part of a 2023 housing study released Thursday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
The report said in 2020 and 2021, 1.1 million homeowners over the age of 65 reported at least one home improvement project to make their homes more accessible to those with limited mobility. That helped make older homeowners the fastest-growing age group when it came to total expenditures on home improvements. In the decade between 2011 and 2021, real spending by homeowners over 65 increased 86%. That compares to an increase of 41% for people under the age of 65.
At the same time, the report noted the cost of home improvements has been skyrocketing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hourly wages for construction workers increased 9% between March 2020 and December 2022 due to a shortage of workers. The report estimated that more than a third of home improvement projects were delayed in 2022 by higher material costs, an increase from 20% in 2021.
Home modifications have become an important component for seniors who choose to remain in their homes, especially given the age of the nation’s housing stock. The National Association of Home Builders estimates the median age of owner-occupied homes in the U.S. is around 40-years-old.
Free and low-cost home modification programs are available to many eligible seniors. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers funding to nonprofit organizations and local governments to make safety and functional home modifications for older adults. Habitat for Humanity’s Aging in Place program collaborates with community organizations to make home modifications and repairs to the homes of seniors.
Home care firms are also partnering with handyman and home improvement companies to make home modifications for their clients. TrueBlue Total House Care has inked deals with Right at Home. A number of Medicare Advantage plans include handyman services as part of their supplemental benefits.