A new breed of home improvers

Americans love to renovate their homes, but fewer and fewer are doing the work themselves. Instead of DIY standing for "Do It Yourself," new research by RoperASW suggests that it could now also mean "Decide It Yourself."

And "decide it themselves" Americans definitely are.

According to the data, half of respondents plan to do something to their homes in the next year or two, from buying new furniture to painting a room to major renovations. Among homeowners, the percentage is even higher - 60 percent.

The most popular home project requires the fewest tools: buying new furniture. Eighteen percent of all adults expect to do this fairly soon, although homeowners are less likely to mention it than renters (15 percent versus 22 percent of nonowners).

Homeowners, understandably, lean toward making improvements to their property, from replacing roofs, windows, and fixtures to creating new indoor/outdoor spaces and landscaping.

Still, homeowners often hire professional contractors or teenagers to do the work, even if a project doesn't require great skills. Rolling paint on a wall, for example, is no more difficult than it used to be, yet just 40 percent of Americans say they or someone in their household usually does interior painting. This is down from 70 percent in 1974.

The trend may result in part from the fact that fixing things isn't as easy for the Average Joe or Jane these days. But equally telling is the kind of lifestyle that many renovators have. Mosttend to have good incomes (77 percent of those with incomes of $75,000 plan improvements), and haven't yet reached retirement (60 percent of those age 30 to 44 have plans).

Yet while people aren't doing the work themselves, places such as Home Depot and Lowe's continue to flourish. A strange irony?

No, says the research. Amer-icans simply love choice. Consumers may not want to do the painting or plumbing themselves, but they do want to pick out the colors and textures, the shelves and faucets for their homes.

Once they've made up their minds, they do buy. Of those who visited a hardware or home improvement store in the past month, about 9 in 10 made a purchase.

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