How COVID-19 Has Impacted Home Maintenance
An annual risk assessment survey of homeowners conducted by Rabin Research has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way homeowners perceive risk and protect their property.
Property wear and tear has not taken a break in 2020, but homeowners have shifted their opinions on dealing with it. When asked to rank three categories of concern about their homes, here’s how 1000 homeowners answered in August of 2019 and August of 2020:
|Maintaining Home Value||81%||45%|
|Weather-related water damage||75%||38%|
These figures demonstrate that in 2020, homeowners are still aware of home maintenance and protection needs, but health and safety concerns, contractor availability, and financial considerations have trumped these home risks.
How COVID-19 has affected Property Risk
One-third of the homeowners surveyed said they have put off home maintenance because of COVID-19 due to safety concerns. Twelve percent (12%) stated they have spotted an issue but have been too concerned about health risks to let a repairman into their homes.
Eighty-nine percent (89%) of the homeowners surveyed believe they are confident that they can check for damage and handle maintenance issues around their homes themselves. Yet, only 43% have done any home improvement or renovation projects. Twenty-six percent (26%) of these have relied on their own DIY skills to handle maintenance, and 17% have brought in a repairman.
Forty-five percent (45%) of those surveyed have said they would like to have been able to hire a contractor to do improvements and repairs, but that availability has prevented them from doing so. According to a report by the ABA, contractors are experiencing diminished labor productivity caused by several factors, including increased employee absenteeism triggered by illness, quarantine, issues with public transportation, lack of available childcare; the general effects of telecommuting; and the necessity of reduced on-site staffing or additional shift work mandated by new federal or local social distancing requirements.
Materials are also more expensive to procure in a timely manner due to global manufacturing shutdowns (e.g., goods made in China), closure of ports, and general material transportation delays within the United States. The increased storm severity has also placed a high demand on building material demand across the Southeast, making it more difficult for contractors to finish improvements and repairs either quickly or efficiently.
What are Homeowners Doing Instead?
Most Americans see their home as their largest financial asset. According to the survey, 55% say they are vigilant about doing home protection measures, yet less than 50% of homeowners currently take these necessary home protection steps:
Checking appliance water hoses (36%)
Inspecting home HVAC systems (29%)
Conducting water heater maintenance (16%)
Inspecting roofs for damage (15%)
Installing water shut-off device (10%)
Insulating pipes (6%)
What You Can Do Now To Protect Your Home
If you are comfortable doing any of the above basic home protection steps, now is an excellent time to start. If you prefer to hire a contractor, here are some ways to ensure your health and safety.
- Ask your contractor if he is showing signs of COVID-19, if he has had recent contact with anyone who has tested positive, and what daily precautions he has taken to protect himself and his customers.
- Ask for a certificate of insurance before starting the job.
- Make sure your contractor is wearing a mask while inside your home.
- Open any doors, cabinets, drawers, etc., and turn on lights so your contractor touches fewer surfaces.
- Make sure everyone in your home is wearing a mask while the contractor is inside your home and maintaining social distancing.
- Use digital payment.
- Thoroughly disinfect the work area after the contractor has left.
Small leaks, cracks, and noises can turn into big problems more quickly than you’d like. Don’t put off home maintenance and repairs because of COVID-19. Most insurance companies will not cover damage due to a lack of maintenance, so doing your due diligence now will likely save you a great deal of stress and money in the long run.
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Sources: Chubb, ABA, Rabin Research