Prudent Home Improvement: Now is a great time to remodel
Spring has sprung and hardware and home improvement stores are bursting with new merchandise--from patio sets to barbecues. In the home improvement retail universe, spring might as well be Christmas.
And normally, it's hard to hold back until frost danger has passed before purchasing plants for the garden, thanks to garden centers' tantalizing displays of beckoning baby tomato plants, herbs and flowers; you can't help but dream about adding a new deck to the backyard and buying great new furniture for it; and if it's time to paint the house, you want to get started on the project as soon as possible.
But this year, big box stores are bracing for the worst: Home owner spending on remodeling is expected to drop 12 percent to $110.2 billion, which follows a 9.7 percent drop in 2008, according to Harvard University's Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity.
Home Improvement that Splits the Difference
So what's a home remodeling enthusiast to do? Should you also "wait and see" before jumping headlong into your list of spring projects out of fear that the economy could actually worsen? Or should you take full advantage of low prices and greater availability of labor?
If you follow national trends, you can split the difference and do a little bit of both.
Eight out of 10 homeowners surveyed by home improvement giant Lowe's said they're planning to either paint their home interiors or upgrade their lawns and gardens themselves over the next year. At the same time, 35 percent of people surveyed by home-service contracting matchmaker ServiceMagic.com, said they put off a home improvement project last year; only half of those people said they plan to tackle that postponed project this year.
Craig Smith, ServiceMagic.com's CEO, told the Wall Street Journal that requests for carpet cleaning services, furniture repairs and preventive maintenance on heating and air conditioning systems are on the rise, while requests for architects, engineers, designers and remodelers have dramatically declined.
What Does that Mean for You?
Well, if you have the money, time and inclination--and are willing to throw caution to the wind--today could be a great time to remodel.
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.