Kingfisher European Home Report 2014

Published:  04 August, 2014

Kingfisher, the home improvement retailer, has unveiled the second instalment of its European Home Report, two years on since the first: a survey of 17,000 householders’ attitudes to home improvement, covering nine European countries.

The latest report finds that Europe’s homes are bursting at the seams as changing lifestyles and demographics put our living spaces under more pressure than ever before. With UK homes the smallest in Europe, houses being built on smaller plots and rising trends such as working from home and children living longer with their parents, people are increasingly viewing their homes as a flexible, adaptable space that needs to change to accommodate shifting priorities.

More than three quarters (77%) of Europeans surveyed said their current home needs adapting to changing family needs, 22% said they need to create more space, while 46% of people have, or would like, a home office.

Financial fears driving energy agenda

The Kingfisher European Home Report also found that rising energy prices are by far the number one fear of European homeowners, with 65% of people saying that rising energy prices are their number one worry about the home. This is more than double the number of people who are worried about keeping up with the mortgage/rent (23%).

Rising energy bills are driving energy efficiency measures up the household agenda:

  • People are eight times more likely to prioritise energy efficient changes, compared with two years ago
  • Almost a third (31%) intend to update their homes’ energy efficiency, compared to just 4% in 2012.

Value creation

Not only are homeowners looking to adapt their space for better lives, they are also looking increasingly to use home improvement to increase the value of their home:

  • The number of homeowners using home improvement to increase the value of their home has quadrupled from 17% in 2012 to 68% in 2014.

Aspirational living

As well as changing homes for practical reasons, the report revealed that people also aspire to more. Asked about their motivation for doing home improvement, 39% said they want their home to show success and impress friends with 34% saying that they want to “keep up with the Jones’”. And, perhaps indicative of increasing consumer confidence, the features most people want are swimming pools (28%), fireplaces (26%), conservatories (23%) and hot tubs (22%). In the UK, people desire en-suite bathrooms more than any other European country.

The DIY skill factor

There are signs that people are getting better at DIY, with their abilities improving since 2012. Despite this, many are ill-equipped to carry out minor household jobs:

  • 40% are not confident assembling flat pack furniture
  • Less than half are confident at unblocking a lavatory.

As well as victory in football, Germany also wins the DIY cup - found to be both the most capable and confident nation, jointly with France. The UK comes in fifth place.

And finally… DIY can help you find love

Aside from intelligence, practicality around the house is the trait women most desire and value in a partner.

Sir Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of Kingfisher, said: “As lifestyles change and living costs rise, people want more and more from their home. The modern home increasingly needs to be a flexible, adaptable space that is able to evolve as our lives change. These days our homes need to be an office, an entertainment hub and a multi-generational living space.

“Despite worries about rising energy costs, the big increase in those looking to use their home as a wealth creator through doing home improvement shows people are more confident about their homes than they were just a couple of years ago.”

Commenting on the desire to improve energy efficiency, Sir Ian added: “Rising energy prices are a very real fear – right across Europe, a bigger concern even than worries about paying the rent or mortgage.

“There is a staggering increase in the number of people who intend to prioritise energy efficiency and it is soaring bills that is driving this agenda.”

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