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Residents turn to home improvement during the pandemic

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Robyn Bardgett

Home improvements were one of the most popular ways that people spent their time and money throughout the pandemic, with many wanting to create a more inviting and comfortable space after spending so much time at home.

“People started thinking, OK, we’re still stuck in Bermuda so let’s do over that bathroom and then they got more ambitious and thought let’s do the kitchen,” said Sacha Bearden, owner of Baptiste Ltd. “So a lot of the money that people were going to spend on vacation, it’s now ‘let’s spend it on these four walls’. It was definitely interesting seeing the evolution of home improvement.”

When Covid-19 first struck and the first lockdown lifted, Ms Bearden said sales in paint sky rocketed. “That’s one thing that everyone can do. You can paint a room yourself and it was an easy and socially distant project,” she said. Eventually people started getting more ambitious and new paint turned into replacing window blinds to carpentry projects and then on to the more involved projects like upgrading bathrooms and kitchens. And while the minor updates can be done yourself, Ms Bearden warns that some projects need a qualified professional. “It’s a good idea to have an architect or designer that has qualifications as some things do need to get professionals involved,” she added. “It can save you money and stop you from potentially making a dangerous mistake.”

While home improvements have started to slow down as more people feel comfortable getting out and travelling, many have opted for complete home remodel. But Ms Bearden warned that the knock-on effects of the pandemic are still impacting supplies and the ability to get products in quickly – or even getting familiar brands at all. “Major suppliers did get squeezed by their US customers and then it was whatever supplies we could get our hands on,” explained Ms Bearden. The company found itself having to switch its brand of paint and had to search out a new window supplier along with other smaller changes to its inventory. “The biggest crunch for us was when our window supplier decided to focus on their US market and big box stores and dropped all their smaller stores and Baptiste got cut out.

“So we spent a lot of time looking for a new supplier, and I was getting a little bit nervous because we couldn’t be a window store and not sell windows. “And in the end, we were able to find a new product that worked for us. So we ended up coming out with an even better brand of windows.” Along with manufacturers making changes to regions they supply, production prices on supplies have also skyrocketed. Ms Bearden noted that planning ahead for a project is key. “Everyone has to think about their projects in advance because you used to be able to come in and get your stuff when you started the project,” she said. “If you find what you like take it as there’s no guarantee you’ll find it in a few weeks’ time.”

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