Home Remodeling Taking Off in Japan amid Condo High Prices

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A remodeled home in Tachikawa, Tokyo

People are increasingly remodeling their homes amid skyrocketing prices for new condominiums and the spread of telecommuting.

The renovation trend transcends merely addressing the natural aging of a home and there has been a marked rise in house-wide overhauls that change the layout and design of rooms to suit particular lifestyles.

“I’m happy I was able to refashion my home and give it a likeable, modern atmosphere,” said a 54-year-old office worker in Tachikawa, Tokyo, who renovated her home last autumn. “My house feels cozier now and I make fewer stops on my way home.”

The woman, whose oldest daughter attends junior high school, said she began to feel cramped in the condo, which she bought 10 years ago. She considered moving but decided instead to renovate the property as the price of newly built condominiums in the area had soared to more than ¥100 million.

She doubled the size of the kitchen by incorporating another room, and installed a large, commercial coffee maker. Additionally, she installed marble-like new wallpaper and floor panels and hung a chandelier. In all, the renovation cost about ¥30 million.

“There’s a growing demand to be more comfortable when spending time at home,” said an official of Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., which carried out the renovation. The company expects remodeling-related sales to increase by 8.7% year on year to ¥115 billion for the 2023 fiscal year that ends in March.

Personal preferences

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, orders for home renovations in the last fiscal year increased for the first time in three years — a rise of 30% from the previous year to ¥2.9 trillion.

In the first half of this fiscal year alone, orders exceeded ¥1.5 trillion, expanding business opportunities for housebuilders and housing equipment companies in the process.

Sekisui House Ltd. has seen an increase in orders for large-scale renovations, including the installation of underfloor heating systems. Construction costs of ¥5 million or more accounted for about 40% of the firm’s total orders, and sales in the remodeling business for the fiscal year ending in January 2023 hit a record high of ¥165.9 billion, according to the company.

Last August, TOTO Ltd. launched its Octave washbasin, which allows hands-free water-draining and light-switching, and the company has reported brisk sales of the product.

According to Sumitomo Realty & Development, many people want to remodel their domiciles to create a workspace in connection with telecommuting. Furthermore, more people started keeping pets amid the COVID-19 pandemic and living in tri-generational homes, leading to increased demand for large-scale renovations.

“There’s been a reassessment of the value of homes since the outbreak and a growing trend toward renovation wherein consumers can adapt their living spaces to suit their own tastes and preferences,” said Akira Daido, group manager of Nomura Research Institute Ltd. “This demand is expected to grow steadily in the future.”