The idea of cultivating a “healthy home” environment is not new, but the concept has been subject to increasing interest among homeowners, renters, and contractors servicing these markets.
Homeowners are taking into consideration air quality, non-toxic housing products, and other energy efficient and health-related features when planning home improvements and remodels. Due to short housing supply, and high home equity, homeowners have been opting to improve upon the home they have and retrofit the features they desire to improve their wellbeing at home.
In fact, more than half of the remodeling projects done in the past year involved healthy-home work to some extent, whether it was just a part of the renovation or the sole focus, according to our Healthy Home Study conducted in collaboration with Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
An increasing volume of healthy home project work was conducted in 2021 compared to findings in 2018.
However, this niche market is still in the early stages of growth, which means there are opportunities for remodeling contractors if they can get past barriers, such as the need for specialized training and higher project costs. Your building materials company and channel partners can assist in both areas, paving the way for trade professionals to successfully integrate healthy home and smart home automation demands into their jobs and become more engaged in advancing this market.
How Engaged are Contractors in the Healthy Home Market?
Over half of contractors incorporated healthy-home work into more than 25 percent of their projects in 2021; this is 14 percent more contractors compared to 2018.
Larger Contractors are More Educated About Healthy Home Options
Because of capacity and resources, larger firms tend to be significantly more engaged in this specialty market, and they offer a wider range of products that address health, safety and energy efficiency. Additionally, healthy home certification and training is more common with larger firms.
More and more, contractors are initiating conversations about incorporating elements of a healthy home into their residential remodeling projects. About 50 percent will routinely broach the topic with their customers. However, they’re not necessarily becoming experts on the features and available products. This is a huge missed opportunity that manufacturers should be developing education, partnerships, and incentive around.
Pull Through Sales Remain High
Homeowners remain critical to the conversation, with about 82 percent of homeowners being more knowledgeable about health-related features and products than trade professionals. This dynamic of pull-through sales being generated from customer demand has increased the market share of home health and smart home products that can be compared and researched readily on consumer friendly platforms like Amazon, Houzz, and other third-party marketplaces.
In general, trade professionals are responding to consumer needs in order to gain additional opportunities. About 73 percent of remodelers stated that expanding their customer base was one of the main benefits of doing health-related project work. Roughly 62 percent said it would increase customer satisfaction and loyalty and 60 percent responded that it gives them a competitive edge. 47% of contractors reported that they are able to benefit from increased average project sizes with health-related offers.
Contractors Desire Information Directly from Manufacturers
When it comes to researching healthy-home manufacturing products, trade professionals utilize a variety of sources, with 61 percent relying on product manufacturers and 48 percent turning to product dealers and distributors. The Internet is also a source of information for about 50 percent of contractors. Peer-to-peer trust remains high, whereas trade professionals are not quick to trust government or regulatory agencies.
What are the Most Common Healthy Home Projects, Products and Services?
While contractors are not as involved in healthy housing as other niche markets, there’s been slow but steady progress.
Increased Demand for Home Efficiency Products
For example, over the past year, six of the top 10 products being incorporated in remodeling projects were related to efficiency or improving home health, including
- indoor air quality monitoring systems
- residential solar systems
- general air sealing and insulation
- high-efficiency HVAC
- energy-efficient appliances
- whole house air exchangers, filtration systems, and purifiers
Increased Focus on Green Remodeling Projects
There also has been an increase in renewable energy installations, energy efficiency retrofits, and weatherization projects, along with indoor air quality improvements and other green remodeling. Residential solar is by far the most popular type of renewable energy installation, with residential geothermal a distant second and residential wind in third.
Will Renewed Interest in Home Health Persist Post-COVID?
During the response to COVID-19, people were spending more time at home and also growing more aware of their surroundings in regards to health and wellbeing. In light of heightened social focus on airborne diseases, homeowners became increasingly concerned about ventilation and air filtration.
Industry trends suggest this heightened awareness will continue to some degree. Additionally, younger consumers and families with children are driving the trend, with multiple factors affecting their attitudes and opinions toward health and wellbeing. According to the study, only 14 percent of trade professionals said there is not enough of a market in their area.
Primary Challenges for Contractors
However, while demand is projected to increase steadily in the future, contractors face a couple of key constraints that are unrelated to the pandemic.
Challenge #1: Price Constraints
Pricing is the primary obstacle for remodeling companies looking to incorporate new products and take on more health-related projects. About 57 percent of contractors noted that materials are more expensive and listed that as one of the constraints of offering health-related removing projects, products and services. As commodity prices remain unstable and transportation costs rise, allowances for premium finishes and add-on features are being eroded.
Challenge #2: Contractor Education
Additionally, healthy home projects often require specialized training and knowledge. That, in and of itself, is a barrier for remodeling companies, according to 48 percent of respondents in the study. It’s further exacerbated by the limited labor market and loss of tribal knowledge as firms see more of their long-standing team members retiring.
When asked, “What are the constraints of offering health-related remodeling projects?”, almost half of contractors reported that customers can’t afford the price tag required. 1 in 4 contractors also reported their struggle to sell, source, and then install these kinds of products for their customer base.
Take, for example, air quality monitoring and filtration systems. While this is an increasingly popular desire among homeowners, only 36 percent of companies have had their employees or subcontractors participate in an Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) training.
As you work to develop products for remodeling contractors and create strategies for messaging and distribution, you have to consider both pricing and lack of specialized training as barriers to be addressed.
Addressing Healthy Home Objectives and Barriers
In light of industry trends related to healthy housing, you can help ensure your brand remains competitive by engaging in product development that bolsters healthy housing and homeowner safety while also addressing the pricing concerns of contractors.
Additionally, you can position your company’s internal team members and indirect sales partners as the experts that trade professionals need to feel confident incorporating these elements and products into their residential remodeling projects. By doubling as a resource for information and product training, you can bolster your brand’s relevance and ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve as this niche market grows.
At The Farnsworth Group, we can help you dive deeper into these and other industry trends through custom market research to better understand your customer’s motivations, improve your product development and develop your revenue.