Remodelers' confidence growing; in Portland, jobs are bigger, but fewer
Mar 06, 2013 (The Oregonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Local home remodelers will show off their stuff this weekend in the annual Tour of Remodeled Homes, at a time when remodeling firms say they are seeing bigger -- if fewer -- projects that show increased confidence in the market.
The Oregonian's Bridget Otto will be previewing the homes over at the Homes & Gardens page, but the show also presents an opportunity to look at the health of the remodeling business.
According to numbers from Construction Monitor, a building-permit aggregator, the number of permits for remodeling jobs in the Portland area has fallen three years in a row.
But the dollar value of the projects rose in 2012 from the year before. Permit numbers show fewer jobs this year through March 1 than last year in the same period, but the average project valuation is again up 35 percent, reaching $64,000.
That means fewer kitchen and bath remodels and more additions or whole-house renovations.
"I'm loving the fact that there are more Port-A-Potties," said Jeff Metke, owner of Metke Remodeling & Woodworking Inc. "My bellwether has always been when you start seeing more Port-A-Potties in your neighborhood, you know people are doing things."
One challenge, Metke said, is that homeowners had gotten used to low pricing on remodels during the deepest parts of the recession, when contractors would lowball bids to keep their business going. Early last year, when remodel costs began to rebound and homeowners faced higher costs, some shelved their plans after they had already been designed.
"A lot of those are being resurrected," Metke said. "The residential-designer community is significantly busier than they have been in the last couple of years."
Some of recent work comes on the coattails of improvements in the housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders, as homebuyers take on improvement projects when they move into their new home.
An NAHB survey of remodelers in the West found they regained a positive outlook on their industry in 2012, the first time the regional sentiment index has turned positive since 2006.
The Remodeling Market Index ended the year with a reading of 59. A reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook.
And the outlook is even brighter when remodelers are asked about their prospects for future work.
"For us, work has been continually steady and strong, but we're getting a lot more interest than we had," said Steve Stolze, owner of SLS Custom Homes & Remodels. "I think people are feeling more confident. We're getting a lot of phone calls."
If you're interested in the show, in which members of the Professional Remodelers Organization display new trends and products in real homes, tickets are $17.50 at remodeltourportland.com. The homes, located across the Portland area, are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
-- Elliot Njus
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