Area builders trying to keep up with remodeling industry boom

Americans will spend more money this year than ever before on home remodeling and additions and southwest Ohio builders are benefiting from the boom but struggling to keep up with it at the same time.

With the economy improving since the Great Recession, people are more willing to spend money remodeling their homes, said Matt Jones, production supervisor at Greater Dayton Building and Remodeling and president of the Miami Valley chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Americans are expected to spend a record $316 billion this year on remodeling, up from $296 billion in 2016, according to a report from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing studies.

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“I would say its definitely booming. The second half of this year has really exploded in terms of the number of projects,” Jones said. “A lot of us in the Dayton area are struggling to get enough people to get the work done and get ahead of it.”

Nationally, remodeling activity has reached its highest peak in 10 years, marking an 8.7 percent increase since 2007, according to Remodeling magazine. Jones said the projects his business has completed are up 20 to 25 percent over this time last year.

Bathrooms and kitchens remain the most popular spaces to remodel, area builders said. But, people are also starting to add and redo patios and other outdoor living spaces, a phenomenon Jones said was likely spurred by boosts in the economy.

“The consensus is that the economy is better,” Jones said. “For whatever reason people have more money to spend.”

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Consumer confidence in the economy plays a big part in home construction and remodeling, said Kathleen Unger, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Dayton. Economic prosperity has also prompted more new home builds in the last year, Unger said.

Unger and builders said they sense people feel more stable in their careers again and are not afraid to refinance or do whatever they need to do to invest money in their homes, she said.

“I see it continuing for the next few years,” Unger said. “Some people just want to make (their home) more into the home of their dreams.”

Alison Davis and her family bought a house on Ridgeway Road in Oakwood in 2015 and Davis has been remodeling the house ever since.

Most recently she hired Greater Dayton Building and Remodeling to redo her kitchen and dining room. Davis spent a year planning the redesign, which included the kitchen and dining room switching places in her house.

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Since Davis spent so long planning the renovation, she didn’t run into trouble finding a builder who could complete the project in a timely manner. But, renovations of Davis’s bathrooms in her home didn’t go as smoothly at first.

Davis started looking for workers to remodel her bathrooms around August 2015 and was at first told she might have to wait until December to have them all done at once. In order to get the bathrooms done in time for her family to move in, she had to hire multiple companies to work on different bathrooms at her home at the same time.

“It wasn’t an easy process, that’s all I’ll say,” Davis joked.

Davis, who has since started her own interior design business, said she recommends people start planning their renovations early and take the time to get them right. Taking time can save homeowners a lot of money too, she said.

“Give yourself time to plan and live in the space a little first,” she said. “If you do find the right people they can save you a ton of cash.”

Like Davis, Jones also recommended people plan ahead. Jones’s company tells homeowners to expect at least a three to five week delay before a project can begin while some smaller companies are sometimes putting people on hold for a few months.

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The heightened remodeling demand has been compounded by a builder shortage that started during the recession when builders left the remodeling industry to find other work, Jones said.

To cut down on wait times, Jones said some re-modelers are working six days a week. If the remodeling industry boom continues though, Jones said the trick will be finding the right work balance.

“We have people doing that and people who are not doing that,” Jones said. “We try to accommodate all of our customers but at the same time we don’t want to run our people into the ground.”

By the numbers

The remodeling industry is experiencing a boom and builders are benefiting and struggling to keep up with demand.

$316 billion: Money Americans are expected to spend on remodeling homes this year.

$296 billion: Money Americans spent remodeling in 2016

6: Days a week some builders working to keep up with remodeling demands.

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