Michigan home improvement demands rise amid virus outbreak

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 9:45 PM EDT
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Michigan residents are heading to hardware stores for do-it-yourself home improvements or hiring contractors to tackle a wide range of projects they identified while spending more time at home because of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

After Michigan allowed nonessential construction to resume on May 7, home improvement professionals witnessed an increase in requests for projects including finishing a basement and building a deck. Hardware store visits for people pursuing do-it-yourself projects have also increased after the resections were lifted, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

“They have lived in their house for the better part of two months, and they’re noticing things,” said Michael Stoskopf, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan.

Recent projects that people have been shopping for include ideas that’s long been on their to-do list or projects inspired by the coronavirus outbreak, like turning a spare room into a home office, Stoskopf explained.

Handyman Connection in Ann Arbor experienced a “screeching halt” when the state’s stay-at-home order began in March, owner Joe Cox said. But since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer decided to allow nonessential construction to reopen earlier this month, Cox’s phone has been ringing with project requests, mostly for new decks.

Cox said he now takes 15 to 20 work orders daily, compared to one or two in April. He’s operating at 70% of the business he normally would at this time of year and expects an influx in early June.

Meanwhile, families are calling Steve Iverson’s Finished Basements Plus in Wixom, hoping to create more livable space by finishing their basements.

“People are still working from home and could be for an extended period of time, and they want and need more space,” Iverson said.

Aradhna Krishna, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said the rise of home improvement demands is natural at time that’s uncertain for many people.

Anxiety about what the future holds during the pandemic pushes people into what’s most comfortable and familiar, their home, Krishna explained.

“People are at home noticing what can be done,” said Krishna. “Then they’re spending more time at home. A house is a buffer against anxiety, and that’s impacting the need for home improvement projects.”

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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