While the economy in 2014 is more sluggish than it was a year ago—due to a variety of reasons—there remains hope for those in the industry. A recent consumer survey by Houzz, a leading online social media platform for home remodeling and design, found nearly 75% of both homeowners and renters want to redecorate their living space within the next two years and, of those, flooring is among the most projects they want to undertake.

The study, which had more than 135,000 respondents across the U.S., found when it comes to replacement projects, flooring, along with paneling and ceiling projects are the most popular at 27%, followed by windows/doors (22%) and roofing (15%).

In fact, 28% of homeowners plan to purchase flooring in the next six months—and 29% plan to purchase rugs. And, the average spend for a flooring addition or replacement is approximately $5,700.

With the exception of millennials, the majority of U.S. homeowners (66%) who are remodeling plan to stay in their home for the long term, according to the third annual Houzz & Home survey, meaning they are more willing to buy better—higher end—products. Generally speaking, people getting their home ready to sell will usually purchase lower-grade materials just to spruce up a place, while those who are planning on staying in their residence will purchase nicer things since they have to live with them on a daily basis.

Adding to this analysis is the Houzz survey found 53% of U.S. homeowners saying they are remodeling to increase the resale value of their home but have no plans to move in the next five years, and just 16% plan to sell their home in the next two years.

Nearly three quarters (74%) said their local housing market has improved, and there was a significant drop in the percentage of homeowners who said funding their renovation project or staying on budget was a challenge this year (19% versus 27% in 2013). Those who report a significantly improved local housing market are more than twice as likely to be planning to remodel (42%) than they are to move (16%) in the next two years.

“While caution about the economy remains,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz, “significantly more homeowners on Houzz are able to fund their remodeling projects this year compared with last year, and they are investing to create a home that meets their needs now and for the long-term. With the exception of millennials, the majority of homeowners who are remodeling to increase the resale value of their homes have no plans to move in the near future.”

What is even more encouraging for the professional retailer is the survey found for homeowners planning projects in the next two years, more than half plan to hire a general contractor (52%), while 34% are seeking carpet/flooring professionals, and 30% want a tile, stone or countertop professional.

Retailers do need to be patient with consumers as the Houzz survery found from initial research to the start of construction, homeowners spend six months to a year planning for big-ticket renovations.

“The investment people make in their homes is not only a financial one, it’s also a very emotional one,” Hausman said. “Rather than opting to move, the majority of Houzz homeowners undertaking renovation projects are choosing to do so because they want to stay in their home, not because they can’t afford to move.”


Kitchen & Bath

When it comes to the areas of the house people want done most, kitchen and baths win out with 26% of respondents planning a bathroom remodel or addition, and 22% planning akitchen remodel or addition in the next two years. And 17% plan to hire an architect or interior designer to help with their project.

Hiring is not just limited to homeowners, as 40% of U.S. renters on Houzz plan to hire an architect and 32% plan to hire an interior designer for some home job in the next two years.

Homeowners and renters are just as likely to decorate but, surprisingly, renters are more likely than homeowners to hire a professional for their interior—21% versus 17%, respectively.

Hausman noted this makes sense given that 17% of U.S. renters on the social media site plan to build a custom home and 41% plan to purchase a home in the next two years.

When selecting a professional, homeowners most value recommendations and reviews (83% of homeowners rated this as very important—a five on a five-point scale. Also important is the professional is an expert in his field (70%), has a personality the homeowner can work with (60%) and has completed similar projects (53%). Among Houzz homeowners, of least importance is finding a professional who offers the lowest bid—just 7% make this a top priority, down from 8% last year.

In choosing flooring products for their bathroom remodels, survery participants overwhelmingly ranked ceramic tile as the most desired at 64%, followed by marble (7%), travertine (6%), and hardwood and vinyl/linoleum each came in at 4%.

For the kitchen, respondents put solid hardwood No. 1 at 35%, followed by tile at 32%, engineered wood (8%) stone (5%) vinyl (4%) cork and linoleum each came in at 3%, and concrete was last at 2%.

The findings, which point to the fact consumers are confused and don’t necessarily understand the products indicate there is a tremendous opportunity for retaielrs to properly educate consumers on the types of flooring they need to fit their lifestyles.

In fact, the survery further points this out as the top challenges for homeowners renovating are finding the right products (39%), defining their style (28%), making decisions with spouse/partner (25%) and educating themselves (22%). Millennials had more trouble defining their style and making decisions with their spouse or partner (43% and 34%, respectively) than other age groups.

Hausman noted the findings from this consumer survery are consistent with those of a recent survey of home professionals on Houzz, which found that 90% of North American residential builders, remodelers and designers expect revenue growth in 2014. That survey also found the majority of home professionals (70%) experienced revenue growth in 2013 compared to the year prior, driven both by an increase in number of projects and in the average revenue per project.

According to the social media site the annual Houzz & Home survey is the largest of its kind of residential remodeling, building and decorating activity conducted. It covers historical and planned projects, the motivations behind these projects, and the impact of the economy on home remodeling, building and decorating plans among the more than 20 million monthly unique users that use Houzz. Hausman said the study yielded detailed data at the national, regional and metropolitan area levels, which Houzz used to examine regional differences in priorities and spending.

For more on the survery, visit houzz.com