Is this a good time to do a home remodel?
January 17, 2009 6:30 PM   Subscribe

How has the recent economic situation affected the cost of a house remodel? Is it cheaper because of the soft housing market, or more expensive because more people are fixing up the places they own instead of moving?
posted by Xazeru to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
cheaper cause people need work
posted by patnok at 7:12 PM on January 17, 2009

In one of the suburbs of the city I live in that probably has a population of about 70K there were 3 active construction permits last month. That's extremely low.
posted by 517 at 9:08 PM on January 17, 2009

The contractors I've been dealing with (plumber, electrician, painter) say business is slow. They say people are scared to spend money on anything but emergencies. I'm not sure that that sense has translated yet into cheaper prices, though. (I'm in northern CA.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:33 PM on January 17, 2009

Yeah. People generally aren't doing anything, whether by themselves or hiring others. patnok probably has the general gist of things. Construction material costs may have gone down a little bit since there's deflation on just about everything now, but you'll probably save a ton (versus a few years ago) just from labor, which makes up a large portion of the construction cost in the States.
posted by LionIndex at 9:35 PM on January 17, 2009

I freelance in construction in Chicago and can tell you that (1) construction issues are always extremely local and (2) times are tough all over. These two things interact in strange ways, but for me, it has meant that my toughest times were this summer, right *before* Wall Street's cauldron of vile brew boiled over. There was a lot of tension in the air, and nobody wanted to take a risk on anything. Finding someone to pay me to build anything would have required me dropping my prices below a level that makes it worth doing, so I didn't do them. I think that there is only so long that folks can go without having stuff made for them though, and things are definitely picking up.

The affects I have seen are that larger number of contractors are willing to compete for any given job. This means that, as a potential customer, you have more options to choose from, but also more of those options will be under-qualified, as contractors are going to be making bids outside their 'comfort zone' to try and get more jobs. You would need to vet your bids very carefully.

That's all labor, which is the lion's share of most job budgets. Materials seem to be affected in peculiar ways. Prices seem to be staying stable, which is a change from the small but steady climb they have been making for awhile, and sometimes I find incredibly good deals on strange items (great deal on 2" clamps just the other day, frex). I think this last is due to bubbles in the supply chain, and won't last for much longer.

I think the biggest change a customer is likely to see is an increase in *quality* of service. You may end up spending the same amount of money as you would have a year ago, but when you call with a complaint, you are much more likely to get a good response. Good customer service is one of the foundations of my business practice, but other folks seem to be only just realizing the value...
posted by schwap23 at 7:23 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is it cheaper because of the soft housing market, or more expensive because more people are fixing up the places they own instead of moving?

I actually work in financial services for the construction industry. Right now things seem to leveling off—while homes sales are low, there's still a lot of people taking advantage of the low interest rates to refinance their existing mortgage; some of these are just people that want to save a little extra, others are looking to reduce the number of years on their loans, but a sizable portion will go to home improvement projects.

The retail sector is always hit hardest by recession, so keep an eye out for sales and promotional bundles. Additionally, if you don't have a problem going used, Craigslist can be a do-it-yourself bargain-hunter's cornucopia of amazing deals.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:26 PM on January 18, 2009

« Older Name of American punk band that covered "Insight"...   |   Bank recommendations in Austin? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.