The economic makeup of the DIY crowd - SmartBrief

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The economic makeup of the DIY crowd

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Home improvement is often a springtime activity. As the snow melts and the weather improves, homeowners often want to make improvements to their homes. These projects can include painting, fixing roofs, carpet and flooring installs, room remodeling and complete renovations. Although many people hire contractors to do the work, others are more do-it-yourselfers who are handy and may be concerned about finances. They want to save money and can easily do the work themselves.

Who are the do-it-yourselfers? Does it depend on the type of work?

Interior painting

A relatively quick, easy way to change a room dramatically without spending a lot of time or money is to repaint the walls. These projects can often be done in just a day or a weekend — depending upon the commitment and skill of the painters. The biggest challenge is usually selecting the color and doing the preparation work. Where do these do-it-yourself painters live?

Interior painters live all across the U.S.; large concentrations are in the Northeast corridor as well as in pockets of California and around Denver. Households in ZIP codes 08510 (Millstone, N.J.), 46814 (Fort Wayne, Ind.), 76034 (Colleyville, Texas) and 99516 (Anchorage, Alaska) are twice as likely as the average American to paint the interior of their homes themselves.

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Who is most likely to paint the interior of their homes themselves? Esri developed a Tapestry Segmentation system that classifies U.S. residential neighborhoods into 65 unique market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics.

Residents of Boomburbs, Cozy and Comfortable, Green Acres, Prosperous Empty Nesters, Sophisticated Squires and Suburban Splendor neighborhoods are one and a half times more likely than the average American to paint the interior of their homes themselves. All of these neighborhoods represent a cross-section of demographics; however, many households have higher-than-average median incomes.

Boomburbs communities are home to busy, affluent young families with young children who live an upscale lifestyle. Cozy and Comfortable neighborhood residents are settled, married and working in suburban areas of the Midwest, Northeast and South. Many couples still live in the pre-1970s, single-family homes in which they raised their children. Green Acres neighborhoods are a “little bit country,” in pastoral settings of developing suburban fringe areas, mainly in the Midwest and South. Residents of Prosperous Empty Nesters neighborhoods are educated, experienced, and enjoying their transition from child-rearing into retirement. Sophisticated Squires residents are educated, married-couple families that hold good-paying jobs and are willing to commute longer distances to maintain their semi-rural lifestyle. Suburban Splendor residents are successful suburbanites who live in growing affluent neighborhoods.

Because they rent and have relatively low incomes, home improvement projects are not a priority for residents of High Rise Renters, Inner City Tenants and Modest Income Homes neighborhoods. Their median household income is less than half of the U.S. median of $50,157.

High Rise Renters neighborhoods have a diverse population and are located in densely populated urban communities. Inner City Tenants neighborhoods are a mix of young, multicultural, married and single residents who rent economical apartments in mid- or high-rise buildings. Modest Income Homes neighborhoods are in older suburbs of metropolitan areas and mainly consist of single-family housing.

Bathroom remodeling projects

Bathroom and kitchen remodels are the most common home-remodeling projects. These can significantly affect the daily lives of residents and, if done properly, can often increase the value of a home. A bathroom remodel can cost a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the size of the bathroom and the quality of the interior finishes such as fixtures, cabinetry and flooring chosen by the homeowner. The website states that an average small bathroom remodel using a contractor costs between $5,000 and $8,000. Many homeowners do not want to spend that much — or think they can make the changes themselves. Where do these people live?

DIY bathroom remodelers live all across the U.S.; however, people in southern California, parts of Nevada and Arizona, and southern Texas are less likely to remodel their bathrooms themselves. Households in ZIP codes 14059 (Elma, N.Y.), 27712 (Durham, N.C.), 44026 (Chesterland, Ohio) and 62563 (Rochester, Ill.) are one and a half times as likely as the average American to do a bathroom remodel themselves.

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What types of homeowners are most likely to do a bathroom model themselves?

Residents of Exurbanites and Prosperous Empty Nesters neighborhoods are one and a half times more likely than the average American to do a bathroom remodel themselves. Residents of these neighborhood types are very concerned with their financial health, so they likely try to do things themselves to save money. Exurbanites are in affluent neighborhoods of empty-nesters and married couples with children. Many hold professional or management positions. Prosperous Empty Nesters residents are educated, experienced and enjoying transitioning from child-rearing into retirement.

Residents of City Lights, High Rise Renters, Inner City Tenants, International Marketplace, Las Casas, Laptops and Lattes, Metro Renters, NeWest Residents and Urban Melting Pot neighborhoods are the least likely to do a bathroom remodel themselves. Many of these households are located in large U.S. cities; except for the affluent Laptops and Lattes neighborhoods, these residents are young with modest incomes and tend to rent in multiunit buildings.

Kitchen remodeling

The kitchen is often the heart of the home. Remodeling a kitchen can greatly affect the flow of a household as well as increase the home’s value. The average cost of a kitchen remodel is $27,000, according to Because of the high cost, many want to save money on the remodel. Who does kitchen remodels themselves? Where do they live?

DIY kitchen remodelers are more likely to live in the Northeast and Northwest than in other parts of the country. Households in ZIP codes 34758 (Kissimmee, Fla.), 72058 (Greenbrier, Ark.), 85353 (Tolleson, Ariz.) and 87121 (Albuquerque, N.M.), are one and a half times more likely than the average American to do a kitchen remodel themselves.

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Who is most likely to do a kitchen remodel themselves?

Residents of Industrious Urban Fringe and Midland Crowd neighborhoods are one and a half times more likely than the average American to do a kitchen model themselves. Family is central to residents of Industrious Urban Fringe neighborhoods, which are located on the fringe of metropolitan cities. Many homes, which are owner-occupied, single-family housing, are multi-generational. Midland Crowd neighborhoods are in villages and town in rural areas throughout the U.S.. Most households are comprised of married-couple families, half with children.

Residents of College Towns, Dorms to Diplomas, Laptops and Lattes, Military Proximity, Milk and Cookies and Urban Chic neighborhoods are the least likely to do a kitchen remodel themselves. Many of these Americans are young, have low incomes and atypical environments such as college life or military service. Because of their transient lifestyle and life stage, most are renters.

Why this matters

Home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are ramping up their marketing for the spring season, focusing on the DIY market. As the housing market continues to rebound, more owners are investing in their homes. Many don’t want to spend a significant amount of money on remodeling projects, so they use their own skills to do the work. Many rely on home improvement stores for advice and to purchase tools and materials. Stores that offer how-to classes in the store or on the Web will encourage more novices to tackle simple projects. It is critical for these retailers to understand the markets where their stores are located — and where to open new stores. This location-based demographic and lifestyle information can help them make good decisions.

Retailers should have different messaging for their marketing based on the demographics of their stores. Some may be in areas where people are more likely to remodel a kitchen or bathroom — or paint on their own. Ads in these areas should focus on the types of projects people would most likely do — or encourage them to try another project. Stores in areas where people would prefer to contract for projects should focus on selling complete packages of designs that a contractor can use.

More information about Esri’s data can be found at or to learn more about Esri in general, go to

Pam Allison is a digital media, marketing strategist and location intelligence consultant. You can visit her blog at