Surged

Why Home Improvement Has Surged And How It’s Changing America : NPR

“It used to be a backyard. Now it’s a summer oasis,” says Astoria Camille of the water feature she built in her mother’s Kansas City, Mo., backyard using an old stock tank and 53 bags of pea gravel.

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“It used to be a backyard. Now it’s a summer oasis,” says Astoria Camille of the water feature she built in her mother’s Kansas City, Mo., backyard using an old stock tank and 53 bags of pea gravel.

Frank Morris/KCUR

The sound of power tools is roaring in neighborhoods across the United States.

In the Brookside neighborhood in central Kansas City, Mo., John Buhr has do-it-yourself projects going from top of the garage to the basement.

“As soon as COVID hit, we needed someplace the kids could play,” Buhr says, noting that neighborhood parks were closed. “So we put a playhouse down [in the basement] first and then found the kids liked it so much that we went ahead and built a living room. And then my wife needed the space to work.”

So now Buhr is building an office for his wife in what was an unfinished attic above the garage. He’s also working on a self-contained apartment for his parents and in-laws to use when they’re in town for extended babysitting visits.

“This all kind of became immediately necessary, thanks to COVID,” Buhr says.

John Buhr now devotes much of his time to fixing up his family’s home in Kansas City. He’s building a playhouse for his young children, an apartment for the grandparents to use on their extended babysitting visits and an office for his wife, who supports the family working in the tech industry.

Frank Morris/KCUR


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Necessity is one factor driving the building boom.

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