Remodeling firms expect robust year

David McCloskey is not planning a vacation this summer, after going away last summer for the first time in 15 years.

“Last year was dead. I went to Maine. I always wanted to see the coastline,” said McCloskey, owner of David E. McCloskey Remodeling and Building, Altoona.

This summer should be more back to normal for him, as all signs point to a strong rebound for home improvement activity, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Robust spending in the second half of 2012 suggests the remodeling recovery is already under way, and the LIRA projects annual homeowner improvement spending will see accelerating double-digit growth through the third quarter of 2013.

“This winter has been busier than the summer. I have done two additions already and have three kitchens and a bathroom coming up,” McCloskey said.

Jim Brown and Melvin Dixon also are optimistic about the new year.

“Last year was fair. This year looks particularly strong because of the low interest rates, and people are more comfortable with the economy. It looks better as far as more new construction as well as remodeling. We have done a lot of commercial remodeling and it now looks like residential is on the upswing,” said Brown, president of J.R. Brown Construction Inc., Hollidaysburg.

Dixon, owner of Integrity Construction, Altoona, said his remodeling business was up 15 to 20 percent in 2012.

“When the home building industry goes down, remodeling goes up. The home building business has been down and that helps our business. People are fixing their homes up until the economy gets better and they can build a new home. Interest rates are low and that has also helped,” Dixon said. “There is also a lot of pent-up demand. People have been putting off their remodeling projects and will say ‘let’s go ahead and do something.'”

Dixon said he recently became a Bath Planet dealer and that has helped his business.

“We are getting a lot of people looking to have a safer home,” Dixon said. “People are living longer and are staying in their homes longer, so they are making them safer.”

Cordell Ebersole, owner of Cordell Construction, Martinsburg, had a good year in 2012 and said this year should be even better.

“It seems to be very good right now. We are very busy. We have enough work lined up to get us to May,” he said.

“After income tax [refunds come in], the phones start ringing like crazy. I think it is going to be a good year as long as the banks are lending money,” Ebersole said. “A lot of the work we do is energy-related. People are trying to keep their heating costs down. We are doing a lot of windows and insulation boards.”

Adam Clark, owner of Adam Clark Construction, Tyrone, also is expecting a better year, even though 2012 was a good year for his business.

“We started to get more calls after the election. People were waiting to see what would happen with taxes,” Clark said.

Joe Crossman, owner of Joe Crossman General Construction, Hollidaysburg, said he expects to see an increase in new home construction in 2013.

“My appointments are more new home-affiliated than remodeling-affiliated,” said Crossman, who last year partnered with John Castle to build 12 new homes.

“As a company for 20 years, we were 70 percent new construction and 30 percent remodeling for the first 15 years. The last four years we shifted to survival mode and focused on remodeling. We are slowing creeping out of that. We are not relying on remodeling as much,” Crossman said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.