Posts Tagged ‘Remodeling’

By IMRE Research

The unemployment rate dropped slightly over the month from 7.6 in May and June to 7.4 percent in July, increasing payroll employment by 162,000 jobs. Some notable gains include the financial activities sector adding 15,000 jobs in July, with 6,000 of those positions in commodity contracts and investments. Over the year, the financial activities sector has added 120,000 jobs, while Healthcare has added an average of 16,000 jobs per month so far in 2013. It was a slow month for the manufacturing, transportation, and construction sectors, as these industries experienced little to no change in job growth over the month. However, the motor vehicles and parts sector added 9,000 jobs over the month. This is another good indication the economy is in recovery mode as automakers are enjoying the highest US sales since 2007.

What Contractors Are Saying

By Kyle Rubeling

Rob What Contractors Are SayingWe’ve been blitzed by the news the economy is improving and jobs are increasing, but are things really getting better? Reports tell us one thing, but what about speaking directly to the contractor? Wanting to hear it straight from the source, BuildIQ had the opportunity to sit down with Robert Robillard, principal of A Concord Carpenter, LLC and a leader in the tool and how-to information world to get his take on the economy, industry trends what lies ahead in the second half of 2013.

Q: You’re out working in the field everyday. Is the economy improving? What signs are you seeing? Is there reason for optimism?

A lot of clients are putting their projects on hold and work is getting scarce. Prices are dropping and trades are willing to do more for less. As an incentive to get things going, an architect friend offered my clients, family, and friends a reduction in his usual architectural fees to help jump start some projects.
Hopefully, people’s confidence in the economy will return soon and bring the construction industry around again. In this economy of bankruptcy and unemployment, it’s been very difficult finding new remodeling clients. It’s also not the time to sit back and wait for the phone to ring.

Building inspiration with Houzz

By Building Experts Team

Just as the social sharing site Pinterest has taken hold of consumers, comparable sites tailored to design andHouzz logo Building inspiration with Houzz remodeling audiences like Houzz have gripped pros and DIYers.

Houzz bills themselves as the “leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world.” (more…)

By Building Experts Team

Why do we love lists? Because they keep on giving, and we have more for you.

Last week, we covered the 5 best building and sustainability wrap-ups of 2011 around the blogosphere. This week, we tackle the design space. Contractors, architects, designers and remodelers are constantly challenging themselves to create powerfully designed interiors for modern homes, businesses and municipalities alike, a new breed that refuses to view beauty and performance as mutually exclusive. The same rules apply as last week: To know where the industry is going in 2012, you must have a strong grasp of what themes drove 2011. Here’s our picks for the best 5 summaries of 2011′s most important design trends:

  1. Interior Design Magazine’s top 10 of 2011 – Wow. Just wow. The definitive interior design publication highlights their top 10 articles of the year, including 3 “Best of Years” articles for office renovation, fashion retail space and kitchen.
  2. Design Milk’s 2011 year in review: Best of interior design – Let your mind run wild! Design Milk always finds interiors that push the boundaries. Here are their top ones from 2011.
  3. People’s Choice: Top 10 most popular Curbed posts of 2011 - Curbed is a favorite site of ours for keeping a pulse on design, but their editorial team also does a fabulous job of uncovering projects that break from tradition, challenge the status quo and rethink the norm. Their top 10 most viewed posts of 2011 is almost a highlight reel of these types of projects.
  4. Freshome’s 20 most popular projects presented in 2011 – is one of the sites we go to when we want to see truly breathtaking design. Each of these 20 aspirational projects could lay the seed for the next new powerfully designed interior.
  5. BUILDER’S 10 top design trends of 2011 – Amy Albert highlights 10 trends supporting a key overarching theme of 2011: Innovative responses to the shifting priorities brought on by economic conditions and tough times.

OK, your turn: What design trends influenced your work in 2011? What “trends of the day” will continue to inspire you this year?

By Building Experts Team

While we’d love to spend time (and fill pages) reminiscing about all of the highlights from 2011, it’s time to move forward. A collection of our experts have made some predictions for next year, looking at the trends in the industry, from media consumption habits to shifts in purchasing behavior. Right or wrong, we’ll have our eyes and minds on these topics throughout the year. (more…)

By Social Marketing Team

Last week brought us the typical mid-month barrage of economic data and industry analysis. And while statistics are always open to interpretation, we’re feeling upbeat this Monday. Here are 5 economic indicators that could signal good times ahead for the industry.

Strong increase in residential permit sales – Claire Easley (

Very strong. Sales of multi-family permits are up 63% over 2010, their highest level in 3 years. Single-family permits, which make-up about 70% of the residential construction industry, also increased 6.6% over the last year.

Architecture Billings Index (ABI) moving in the right direction – Sarah Firshein (Curbed)

Technically, the ABI measures the demand for architecture and design services. In reality, it’s a leading indicator of what construction spending will look like 9-12 months from now. Although the October ABI continued the long decline it began back in 2010, the rate of contraction is slower and new project starts were up 3% over September.

Construction Fuel Consumption Up in October –

Probably the best indicator of current construction activity, the Wright Express Fuel Consumption Index reported that construction firms consumed – and thus burned – 0.9% more fuel in October 2011 than the year before.

Construction backlog stays above 8 months – Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC)

Only in the quirky world of economic forecasting do terms like “backlog” mean something positive. Here’s the deal: If the construction backlog indicator is over 8 months, then construction spending is likely to increase in the next year. If it’s under 8 months, then spending is likely to decrease.  The higher backlog rate was a major reason why ABC forecasts a 2.4% increase in construction spending next year.

Thanksgiving holiday travel set for record high – AAA Travel Views

In what some see as a sign of economic recovery – or at least consumer confidence – Americans are expected to travel more this Thanksgiving holiday season, increasing to a record 42.5 million travelers up from a 2008 low of just 37.8 million travelers.

Pro Panel: Cash for Caulkers

By Building Experts Team
Barack Obama 300x207 Pro Panel: Cash for Caulkers

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Cash for Caulkers, or Home Star, has been in the hands of the U.S. Senate for 15 days, just six months after the potential program first started making buzz. If you followed the news or poked around on blogs, there’s no doubt reactions have been mixed – we are talking politics. That said, though, many in our industry are taking a stand, ready to soon breathe a big sigh of relief with all the promises of job creation and the impending need for building materials.

To get a better understanding of how our colleagues are reflecting on the passage of Cash for Caulkers, we reached out to a product manufacturer, a remodeler, and a member of the trade media to hear first-hand their thoughts on the impending bill.

The experienced panel consisted of Shawn Rippon, Vice President of Marketing for Icynene, Michael Anschel, Principal of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, LLC, and Rick Schumacher, Editor and Publisher of LBM Journal. See what they had to say…


By Shawn Draper

This past Friday I attended the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). Within the first hour of the show, I saw and experienced one of the more memorable events in my career. I saw a Reed Business Information sales rep standing in the middle of the convention hall in shock over the announcement his employer had closed their business that morning. Seeing him standing alone among hundreds of people made me very sad for him, the great people that made up the Reed team, and our industry.

Now I’m pretty sure he was aware of the impending decision, and I’ve been told the former Reed employees are receiving generous severance packages. Nonetheless, reading an email of your job’s demise while on the road attending an industry event  is a brutal thing to experience and a difficult thing to watch. Seeing Reed unravel through hallway conversations, email, Facebook and Twitter during the day left me reflecting on how publishing companies have influenced the industry and me.

During my twenty-plus year career in the home and building business, I have been privileged to work with some of the best people in our industry. Many of them happen to be leaders from publications that serve builders and remodelers. When I was tasked with building and leading the remodeling business for Andersen Windows, our agency account executive, Deb St. John, introduced me to Peter Miller of Hanley Wood and said, “It is my goal to make you as well respected as Peter within the remodeling industry.” Peter, a publisher of information, was so well liked and respected because he took the time to engage and be a part of industry he served. As a result, Peter became an expert in the remodeling industry. I’m not certain Peter could hammer, saw, or design anything around his house or yours. I do know Peter helped give remodeling the respect it deserved by becoming a voice for the remodeling market and remodelers.

No sooner did Peter Miller opt for early retirement than Dean Horowitz, now formerly of Reed, showed up on the scene. Dean is an idea guy. The NAHB Remodelers Council wanted to publish a new magazine, so Dean worked with the leaders of the Council to create Professional Remodeler. The Internet was becoming formidable, so he built Demonstration is critical to teaching and learning in the construction industry; Dean built the Show Village at IBS. But the most important thing Dean did for his publishing company was create a team that understood new and big ideas are important to his clients, their agencies, and the industry.

 Who's Going to Be the Next to Challenge the Industry?

From BoschAppliances

This leads me back to the floor at KBIS wondering who will be inspiring the industry to embrace big ideas? Is it a publishing company or its publisher? Is it a manufacturer or a service provider? Is it one of the great people that has been forced to leave their jobs? I don’t know. I’m certain of a couple of things. First, any building products manufacturer or publishing company will be well-served by the people Reed left behind. Second, another leader within the building industry will emerge who will challenge the industry, so we can all do more moving forward.

By Building Experts Team

Doug Oles of Evergreen Custom Homes and Marty Creech of Creech Construction are owners of successful family-owned businesses in Greenville, South Carolina. Oles builds custom homes in the nationally acclaimed Cliffs Communities, which are spread throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and into western North Carolina. Creech focuses on major remodeling projects including kitchen, bath and whole-home remodels.

 Building and Remodeling In A “Healthy" Housing Market

Greenville’s housing market has remained relatively steady in the boom and bust that have been trademarks of the past ten years in real estate. The market was recently ranked #19 in Builder Magazine’s listing of the healthiest housing markets in the U.S. With modest 3-5% appreciation throughout the early part of the decade, home prices stayed relatively affordable and thus didn’t see a major decline the past couple years as witnessed in markets with double digit annual run-ups like Florida and California.

While prices have remained fairly stable in the market, both Creech and Oles have shared some of the same pains other builders and remodelers have faced throughout the country. Below is a summary of our recent discussion.

Build Intel: How has the recession impacted your business?

Doug Oles: Our production has slowed due to lack of demand and an increase of competition. We’ve had to trim our staff and try to make it through these tough times. We are fortunate enough to have projects through these times. We also had a little foresight and were able to prepare for this downturn. Unfortunately we really do not know how long this downturn will last, and I am sure that many companies in our industry will not make it.

Marty Creech: Dramatically, it has changed people’s priorities from large-scale projects to minor projects. I’ve gone from an average job of $250,000 to $100,000 the past two years. We’ve also had some challenges working with banks that may not be local and understand this housing market has remained stable. I recently had a homeowner wait nine weeks for financing. That’s never been an issue in the past. We’ve had more competition popping up too, from new homebuilders who have entered the remodeling market. I’ve gone from four to five competitors in my market space to 10 to 20.

BI: Have there been any silver linings for you and your business during the downturn?

DO: We have been able to “take stock” in our company and our process. We have had the time to streamline and increase efficiency in regards to process and sub-contract management. Also, with the downturn, pricing on materials and labor has come down giving our clients more value for less cost, making it an excellent time to build.

MC: Yes, we have remained somewhat busy, but I’ve also been able to spend more time with my family during the downturn.

BI: The stock market / analysts have followed the home building industry religiously since the recession began. How much do you follow the housing start numbers and the performance of the big builders?

DO: I do follow these numbers and reports fairly regularly. Because we are in a specific market at a specific price range, I do not put a lot of emphasis in these numbers. It’s good to speak to clients about these things, especially when the numbers are positive, but our clients typically know that they are going to build before they start speaking with us. We do follow some analysts and economic forecasts that pertain to us regionally. Also, I feel the local home sales numbers are a good indicator for new construction in my market.

MC: I really don’t follow these reports. It has little bearing on my market.

commod Building and Remodeling In A “Healthy" Housing MarketBI: Lumber prices are on the rise due to tight supply, have you seen an impact yet with your business?

DO: We have not seen a big impact as of yet, but we are preparing for this in our bids. Obviously an increase in lumber pricing is not going to help the building industry unless you can tell a client that they should build today, because tomorrow their house will cost more. In recent history this has just caused a decrease in builder profit.

MC: Due to the size of my company, I haven’t seen a major repercussion yet. It may have jumped 5%, but on my projects, a 5% jump on the cost of lumber isn’t a huge issue. During the gas crisis about five years ago, we adjusted prices then because everyone else was adding fuel and delivery surcharges, but so far this has had little impact.

BI: What is the general mindset of your buyer right now?

DO: Today’s buyer is looking for a great deal. They know the market is down and they expect to get an excellent price on their project. Today’s buyer is justifiably more discriminating and knowledgeable of costs. These are good things. We recommend being as knowledgeable as possible about a purchase and investment at this level. Today’s buyer must be cautious and make sure they do their homework on the builder as well. Because of the down market we have seen some interesting and possible dishonorable tactics from builders trying to get an edge.

MC: I’ve had many people think that right now in this market, everything is on sale and pricing should be very aggressive. While there is some truth to that, material has really held constant or gone up, so pricing reflects that as well. I have been able to leverage the downturn with some of my laborers because they are short on work.

dscf4255 300x200 Building and Remodeling In A “Healthy" Housing Market

BI: Are you starting to see signs of a turnaround in the market?

DO: Just within the past two weeks we have started to see a slight uptick in interest. We’ve seen some action in the local sales scene as well as a few more inquiries from potential clients. We have seen some negative news recently on the national new home sales front so we will see if that has an impact on this overall fragile market.

MC: I have a lot of estimates out there. The downtown area has remained strong for me. I’m still seeing customers doing a lot of homework, pulling multiple quotes from different remodelers and builders, but I do feel like this market is heading in the right direction.

BI: Anything else you’d like to add?

DO: It is a great time to build for people who have the financial ability right now. You should be able to get a good price on most projects. The market will come back. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive, but we must remember that markets do cycle, and this industry has had, and will have, some great years. The companies that can make it through the bad times should be set up for positive gains when we get back to a better economy.

By Building Experts Team

As you might have already heard, more negative news for residential remodeling was released last week with the announcement of new figures from the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI). According to the updated RMI, the market conditions index fell to 36.4 from 39.8 in the third quarter.

 Remodel Your Business Through Relationships

The RMI measures remodeler perceptions of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects. Any number below 50 indicates that more remodelers say market conditions are getting worse than report improving conditions. The RMI has been running below 50 since the final quarter of 2005.

These figures, measuring perceptions of the remodelers, contradict the most recent Lowe’s earnings report and leading industry indicator, the 2010 Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA). In January, the LIRA forecasted consumer spending to grow up to $105.5 million in the first quarter and rise to $107.6 million in second quarter 2010.

Just because current remodeler perceptions continue to dip doesn’t mean that a rebound isn’t possible, it will just take time, and more proof of an impending recovery. Maybe we just need an attitude adjustment? As we wait for more positive news, here are a few easy tips to help remodelers, and other battle-tested professionals, build new relationships that will support the future of their business:

1. Join Regional Building Groups – Regional building groups are a great way to grow local roots. Development of friendships with regional builders and architects offers the opportunity for referrals and other mutually beneficial, long-term relationships.

2. National Association Membership – Membership with national associations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), allows for the sharing of case studies, best practice for marketing your business and opportunities for continuing education. Many trade associations, like NARI, do a great job of adding value to members with real benefits, including industry research, public recognition, certification and most importantly, lead generation services. And most likely you’ll find dues cheaper than they were a few years ago.

3. Trade Show Attendance (Regional and National) – Attendance at trade shows are a terrific opportunity to, again network with peers, but in addition, take advantage of developing relationships with product manufacturers and suppliers. These folks will be able to keep remodelers up to speed on the latest products and trends and help customers with personalized services, including discounted pricing.

4. Customer Referrals – Maintain regular “check-ins” with past customers. Staying connected with past clientele keeps you top-of-mind for future projects and those customers are more likely to refer you to friends and family. This can be done through a simple phone call or sending a regular eNewseltter to past and potential clients.

5. Social Marketing – Using online applications like LinkedIn and Facebook can be a great, inexpensive way to gather customer testimonials/recommendations into a single mainstream, intuitive channel. It’s also a great way to attract new customers if the channels are used properly and align with your business strategy.

So what have you found to be a successful marketing strategy in this tough market?

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