Are americans too obsessed with home renovations?

I foundthis interesting articlewhich states for many homes going thru remodeling, nothing really is wrong. BUT, people are convinced that they MUST do some big (and expensive) upgrades.

What do you all think?

IMHO we should spend more attention to grammar and less to remodeling.

I love McMansionHell!

However, I disagree with her that it’s an obsession. I think most people are just updating their homes to work better for them in the current day. For example, in the USA lots of homes build in the 50’s and 60’s had one tiny bathroom. Or perhaps they had a guest bathroom also, but the bathroom in the master bedroom was tiny. The assumption seemed to be that only one person at a time ever used the bathroom - likely the man of the house before he went to work and then the mom had all the rest of the day to use it. These days everybody works, so everybody has to squash into the bathroom together to do their morning hygiene before work. So those bathrooms need to be bigger.

My parents got their basement finished to be living space. That paid massive dividends over the subsequent thirty years, since it increased the usable floor space by around 80%.

I have a friend who bought a fixer-upper and then proceeded to start fixing it up.

Myself, if I ever scrape up enough money to get a house, I’ll probably install shutters.

So that’s 3/3 (or 2/2 if you don’t count fantasies). Obsession confirmed.

I can tell you that given a chance, I’m happy to sit and watch home renovation shows for hours on end. My husband is too! But it hasn’t actually translated into us doing anything (yet). :slight_smile: Our house definitely has some “quirks” but nothing I couldn’t live with for the rest of my life.

I’ve noticed that on some shows, people will walk into a perfectly fine room and immediately complain that it’s dated and talk about what “has” to be done to it…whereas on a different type of show (say Beachfront Bargain Hunt) people would walk into the same sort of room and be enthused about the size and the natural light.

Most people do not live in The Perfect House. Your house is where you spend most of your time. It’s your ‘castle’. There’s nothing wrong with remodelling a house to the way you like it.

Our house was built in 1934. (Well, the core of it was.) Knob-and-tube wiring. Last Summer we needed to replace the fuze box with a circuit breaker panel. Eventually I’d like to re-wire the whole place. Our old deck was small, and only accessible from inside from the rear bedrooms. There was a six-foot corrugated plastic roof over the living room doors that opened onto a cracked concrete patio. Now we have a large deck with a large roof over almost half of it so that we can spend time outside. Since I like to cook, the kitchen can seriously use a remodel. It’s all about making the place more comfortable, more usable, and more efficient.

Well, I wish you’d told me about it sooner. :smiley:

Also, a lot of what we built post-WWII was ugly as hell. It probably ought to all just be razed and rebuilt with a little care and design, but since we’re already facing a housing shortage in much of the country, people are making an attempt to make these homes feel good. I don’t know if that’s ‘obsession’ or not, but it’s completely justifiable.

We bought a house in 2004 that had been built in 1949 and not touched since, except for the illegal renovations in the lower level. The kitchen was tiny and awful, there was a lot of space wasted due to a thick interior wall that housed a no-longer-used chimney thing. The only bathroom was serviceable but funky. So we spend a lot of my inheritance from my parents to remodel the upstairs kitchen and bath, and to bring the downstairs everything up to code and to make it more useful.

I confess to watching a lot of home improvement shows, including those awful ones where they remodel something in three days, and that this had some effect on my desire to remodel and even more on my sense of what the end product should be. But mostly, we got a much more livable, safer and more valuable home out of it.

As to questions in the OP, I don’t find it particularly useful to think about “are most Americans” anything in particular. In my experience, more people laugh at McMansions than want to own one. You see a lot of silly people on television, I don’t see so many of them in real life.

Honestly, I think we reached Peak Remodelling Obsession about twelve years ago. House flipping became the dream job of a tenth of the population of the USA, Canada, and the UK about then.

As it’s become apparent it’s not a great reason to quit your day job, it’s declined in popularity. It’s still something people do, of course, as they should. Nothing wrong with making your house nicer.

This. While I’m sure there’s a lot of superfluous remodeling going on, in most cases it’s to improve infrastructure and functionality.

We’ve replaced all of our major appliances and HVAC not because we didn’t like the way they looked (even though we didn’t), but because we wanted to be able to live in our own home comfortably and have modern, well functioning, energy efficient appliances.

We are eventually going to update the kitchen cabinets because right now it’s like walking back into 1975; we’ve got those classic off-white oak strip cabinets. This is not my kitchen but it’s got the same look. Not that I personally give a shit what they look like, but we are planning to move on in a few years and that look is going to be a very hard sell for this house in this area.


I’d love to have such a modern kitchen! Our cupboards are not a standard size, and I suspect they’re homemade. The drawers are also homemade-ish. They lack any bearings or smooth sliding devices. The other side of the kitchen had no cabinets; just a wall. I had a couple of tables, and stored stuff under them. And on top of them (along with the microwave oven and toaster oven). I went to Home Depot or Lowe’s and bought four, two-foot cabinets, each with an internally-hinged door and a nice smooth drawer, and an eight-foot countertop with a marble pattern. They’re not installed, but just sitting on the carpet. (My friend carpeted part of the kitchen when he owned the house.) They’re temporary until we can to an actual kitchen remodel. We can’t do new cabinets until we get a new floor, and we can’t get a new floor until we address the unevenness of part of the existing floor. At least the stove and the fridge are only a few years old.

Oh, and we hate the sink. But given the DIY nature of the installations by someone many decades ago, we can’t find a new sink that isn’t too large for the space.

My wife watches far too much House Porn TV. That is, when she’s not watching Food Porn TV. :wink:

Americans are too obsessed with critiquing how other people spend their money and live their lives.

Absolutely. Although it goes somewhat hand in hand with so much more information (social media, ‘reality’ TV, etc) about what ‘other people’ are doing.

Hard to imagine caring if people upgrade their houses ‘too much’ as a thing in itself. I worry about the debt load and lack of savings of other Americans in general on a macro level, because it tends to form public policy (to make it up by taking money from those who have saved it, one way or another). Not that it helps if I worry about it, so I don’t too much.

Our house was built in 1901. The kitchen we replaced a couple of years ago seemed like 1970’s maybe for the most part, although one wall was pantry closets which seemed could be original. We gutted the 70’s stuff, just refinished the possible 1900’s stuff.

The whole “I want something better” runs through our lives. Houses are just one thing. If we bought cars using the principles of the article in the OP, we would all buy 15 year old low mileage, mid range cars and love them. And some do just that.

It’s just natural to want a bit more. Homes can be upgraded one room at a time. Many people can do a lot of it themselves and save money.

And - how else are we going to justify all those giant pickup trucks?

The fact that somebody got paid money to come up with an article doesn’t mean that it’s actually a thing. Same holds for reality TV shows. Do you really believe everything you read online?

yes. it’s stupid. it actually was brought up a bit ago in another thread. I picked out a particularly grating section of the linked NPR article:

oh yes, what a fucking hardship it is to have fake wood countertops and refrigerator doors which touch the dishwasher. truly, these people are suffering as horribly as people living in bedbug-infested tenements w/o functioning utilities. Truly, one is impoverished if one has to wait in order to pay for a $140,000 kitchen renovation.

I am not. Mr.Wrekker is always looking for a reason to hit Home Depot. We built this house and I chose what I wanted then. We have had plenty of worn and broken things over the 20 years we’ve had to replace. We took all the carpet up downstairs and replaced it with bamboo flooring. We had to renovate the kids bath upstairs cause kids are nasty and don’t dry up after themselves. I have redecorated a certain bedroom twice ( yes that would be the lil’wrekkers room). But, otherwise the basic house has stayed the same. I will never live anywhere else, I don’t need more room. So we are happy, so far.

I can definitely see upgrading electrical and plumbing.