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Pandemic projects

If you’re going to be at home so much, home might as well be nicer.

And if you can’t go to the gym, it might be time to bring the gym to you.

Home improvement projects and renovations have skyrocketed over the past few months, according to all available data. In August, Houzz, an online home remodeling platform, reported a 58% annual increase in project leads for home professionals. Most of those leads had to do with outdoor spaces, such as pools and spa professionals. In fact, one swimming pool supply distributor reported an all-time high sales day this summer and said that its overall sales have been 54% higher than they were last year.

In Michigan alone, there was a 334% increase in swimming pool design and installation project inquiries, as well as a 178% increase in deck, patio, and porch inquiries, according to the Detroit News.

“The pool, the home gym, the sauna — those are things that when you’re not able to go out, your house is an enjoyable space where you can live bunker-style and still be active, still feel comfortable, and still enjoy,” Justin Sullivan, who put in a brand new pool in his backyard this summer, told CNBC. “The kids will have spaces to make sure they can work from home, and when it gets really hot in the summertime, they’ll have a place where they can cool off.”

It’s not all fun and sweat. Adults also need to add home office space. Many people are still working from home, and they might continue to do so on a much more regular basis even after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available. And by now, the parents have learned that the dining room table doesn’t provide the optimal work environment. If you thought an open floor plan was bad in your office building, it’s a whole other level when your coworkers are teenagers.

Other families are taking on smaller projects they had previously pushed aside. Kitchen remodeling, painting, refurbishing living spaces — homeowners are doing all of this and more. Instead of spending their extra cash on vacations or new purchases, people are investing this money into their homes.

“We call it ‘perma-cation,'” David Compo, a contractor and owner of Compo Builders in Novi, Michigan, told the Detroit News. “Instead of spending $5-10,000 on a trip, clients say, ‘I’m going to spend that money on my house.'”

All of this makes sense. Home isn’t just the place you return to after work. It’s the place where you work, rest, and do everything else in between.

“We’re here so often,” said Barbara Connolly, the owner of a college admissions consulting firm who recently renovated her entire backyard. “You want to fix things because you’re home. In the past, you may have been able to overlook that broken lamp or dent in the garage door but because you were passing through. Now, it’s your constant environment.”