Inching Toward a Remodeling Comeback
The scream of a circular saw in my house this weekend might have convinced a passerby that there was a whole lot of construction going on inside. Actually, it was just a tiny do-it-yourself job that might more appropriately be considered decorating rather than remodeling. But it still represents the first home-improvement spending we've done since late last summer when it became clear that the economy was starting to fall apart.
Anticipation of visiting relatives next month finally prompted us to re-do a half bathroom that was looking mighty shabby, with dated wallpaper (yes, that's redundant) that was wrinkled and starting to peel. We're ripping out the paper (my part of this DIY job) and replacing it with bead board wainscoting and crown molding (my husband's part). We're spending just under $300 on materials, including about $100 budgeted for a new wicker wall cabinet.
Looking at the news, I see that we're not alone taking baby steps back toward spending. On May 14, the National Association of Home Builders reported a jump in its Remodeling Market Index -- improving from abysmal to simply bad. An index under 50 reflects that a majority of remodelers surveyed do not anticipate an improving market. In the last three months of 2008, that index hit a record low of 18.6. But their index of current market conditions hit 34.5 percent, up from 25.5 in the fourth quarter of 2008. The greatest jump came in the minor home addition category, which increased to 39.1 from 31.5. Major additions increased to 32.7 from 19.4. Maintenance and repair climbed to 30.4 from 23.6. Officials at NAHB said remodelers are starting to get more requests for bids and proposals, though it's still a challenge getting customers to actually sign on for a job.
Lowe's, the big home-improvement supply store, reported quarterly financial results yesterday that were less lousy than expected. Lowe's 32-cent per share earnings were better than the 25 cents per share that analysts had expected. The company expects current quarter earnings of between 51 and 55 cents per share. Home Depot is scheduled to release its earnings report at 9 a.m. today.
I don't know if the super luxe bath finishes that became so common during the boom will be much in demand after the economy recovers. Consumers' new frugality may have become a habit by then. I know our little half-bath facelift is much more modest that we would have liked it to be. It would have been delightful to hire someone to do the work for us. We're re-using the same pedestal sink and toilet, even though both could stand to be replaced with something more stylish and functional. The old ones will do for now -- and probably for quite a while.
Do you think luxurious bath finishes will be a thing of the past, or they still high on your list?
May 19, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Home features , Remodeling and repair , The economy
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