If necessity is the mother of invention, a pandemic may be the mother of reinvention.
Greater Grand Island residents hunkered down last spring as COVID-19 spread. Hall County was hit early and hard, slowing or stopping most normal activities.
People spent more time at home and as their walls and floors became more and more familiar, those confines seemed to be calling for change. Deferred vacation spending, stimulus checks and money formerly used for entertainment and dining out could be targeted toward home improvement.
The Sherwin-Williams Paint store in downtown Grand Island saw increased interest in home improvement projects, according to Jared Jackson, assistant manager.
“There’s a lot of people coming in. We see a little bit of remodels. Tearing out walls and moving things around in a house, putting up new cabinets. But the majority is just repainting rooms, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls,” Jackson said.
The store didn’t allow customers inside during the height of the pandemic and resorted to curbside pickup only. “Even then it was still just as busy,” Jackson said.
Other paint and flooring stores also reported increased demand and interest in home projects.
Jeremy Bachmann found himself quarantined in early November after a positive COVID-19 test, and he used that time to help his father-in-law, Ken Duncan, prep his home for new siding. The duo removed the old siding and sheathing, insulated and resheathed, and installed new windows.
A siding company installed the siding once all the prep work was finished.
“I learned a whole lot,” Bachmann said. “My father-in-law did construction awhile back. He doesn’t do that anymore, but he has a wealth of knowledge.”
Bachmann was going to spend 8-10 hours on the weekends helping Duncan, but with his forced time off work, he worked for more than a week.
Another homeowner, who asked for anonymity because of privacy concerns, used stimulus money, deferred vacation spending and more time at home to install new floors, update two bathrooms and do extensive painting throughout the house.
Although he didn’t install the flooring, he removed the old carpet and tile before the installation. He had to wait six weeks after purchasing the flooring before it could be installed because of the busy schedule of the company doing the work.
Larry Molczyk of Aurora retired three years ago, and he and his wife, Dorothy, enjoy morning coffee on a small deck outside their bedroom.
“We began to look at the great expanse of our back yard, which was essentially undeveloped and needed landscaping,” Molczyk said in response to an email. “We found ourselves putting in new plantings and tending to our garden area in the way we never had time before.”
Then, Dorothy envisioned a patio.
“We soon discovered that a patio area involved far more than laying out a couple hundred square feet of paver stones. Our first hurdle was to get permission to dig up the area through the sign off of multiple utilities,” Molczyk said. “Later, it involved sod removal, serious spadework, multiple trips with wheel barrels of dirt, bringing in stone and sand for the paver base and, ultimately, leveling several tons of pavers.”
Top soil removed from the patio area was placed into newly constructed garden boxes.
The couple then turned their attention to the interior of their home and carpeting they had been planning to replace. Having been isolated since March 2020, and not wanting any outside installers in the house, they decided to remove the old carpeting and install laminate flooring themselves.
The couple also installed laminate flooring in their kitchen along with new appliances.
One project was more of an artistic endeavor as they revisited Larry’s stained-glass making hobby/business of 40 years ago. The result is now proudly displayed in their home.
Throughout the improvement projects, they worked hard to avoid contact with COVID-19 carriers by using online ordering, curbside pickup and donning goggles and masks if an in-person transaction became absolutely necessary.
The couple used their stimulus checks and money that had been targeted for a vacation to make their home into a more comfortable COVID-19 refuge.
The Grand Island Window World store also saw an uptick in business, according to Jordan Stolz, office manager.
Increased business brought challenges as doors and windows are custom built at a central manufacturing plant. The typical lead type on projects, Stolz said, is one month. COVID-related delays pushed out some deliveries to 9-12 weeks.
She said most customers were understanding about the situation.
With an additional $1,400 in stimulus money being a future possibility, the DIY and home improvement surge may continue well into 2021.