Remodeling expected to see prolonged growth

Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich John Price from Donald C. Delozier Inc., trims a new window in a house on McFarland Road in Tipton. Spending by homeowners on improvements is expected to increase 2 percent per year on average through 2025 after adjusting for inflation, according to a report released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

It’s a good time to be in the remodeling business.

Homeowner spending on remodeling is expected to see healthy growth through 2025, according to Demographic Change and the Remodeling Outlook, the latest biennial report in the Improving America’s Housing series released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The residential remodeling market includes spending on improvements and repairs by both homeowners and rental property owners and reached an all-time high of $340 billion in 2015, surpassing the

prior peak in 2007.

Spending by owners on improvements is expected to increase 2 percent per year on average through 2025 after adjusting for inflation.

Local remodelers are expecting a good year.

Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich Part of the remodeling work done by Donald C. Delozier Inc., at McFarland Road in Tipton included a new bathroom.

“We are swamped. We have seen an upturn in business. We’ve seen the trend go from new construction to remodeling. We’ve had a great number of calls for additions. People want to add on to what they have, so we’ve been doing a lot of additions,” said Tim Wilkins, partner in Wilkins Contracting Inc., Altoona.

“I am focusing 110 percent on remodeling. That seems the way our market is moving right now. People seem to want to stay in their homes, especially older people are doing things like putting bathrooms on the first floor,” said Jim Brown, president of J.R Brown Construction, Hollidaysburg.

The construction business in general is seeing a definite improvement over last year.

“We do primarily new homes but also have some significant remodeling projects, such as installing new kitchens, that type of thing. With low interest rates and more faith in the economy, I think you will see construction continue to grow. We are busy and expect to stay that way this year,” said Mark Metz, president and owner of Metz Builders Inc., Hollidaysburg.

“I think it will be a good year. It always seems after an election (presidential) year it picks up. The amount of available real estate is low. People can’t find what they want, so they are remodeling what they have,” said Jeff Weyer, owner of On the Level Remodeling, Altoona.

With homeowners looking to stay in their homes, one common repair is a handicapped accessible ramp like this one installed by Donald C. Delozier Inc.

The local trend has moved from building new homes to remodeling.

“Ten to 15 years ago, I would say tear it down and build new. The price of new construction is so high. Twenty some years ago, the difference between remodeling and building new wasn’t as great. The difference in price between new and remodeling existing has caused more people to remodel,” said Donald Delozier, president of Donald C. Delozier Inc., Altoona.

Some people have been holding off on their repairs.

“I think because of the economy a lot of people were holding off on basic home repairs. In the last 18 months, I have been doing a lot of catching up maintenance and repair work. So far, 2017 has been outstanding,” said Craig Cherry, owner of Cherry’s Handyman Services, Tyrone.

“Over the last six to eight weeks, we’ve done more remodeling jobs. People are skeptical about purchasing new homes and decided to stick with what they have. New home costs have gone up over the last two years,” said Cordell Ebersole, owner of Cordell Construction, Williamsburg.

Demographically based projections suggest that older owners will account for the majority of spending gains over the coming years as they adapt their homes to changing accessibility needs.

“People in their late 50s and early 60s start to think about getting ready for the future,” Brown said.

“We install wider doorways, new doors and bathrooms with ADA fixtures. We want to make it so they are safe for the rest of their lives,” said Dave Moyer, owner of D.C. Moyer Builders Inc., Altoona.

Ebersole does a lot of ADA work.

“We take existing homes and make them ADA accessible. We also do that in new homes. We do a lot of walk-in showers. In building new homes, we’ve done away with basements. People seem to like the open floor concept. We go into older homes and remove the interior walls,” Ebersole said.

Remodeling projects vary from year to year.

“In 2015, it was decks and porches,” Cherry said. “Last year it was predominantly bathroom remodels. Over the last 18 months, it has been from basic maintenance to repairing things like dripping faucets, toilet exchanges and lighting.”

“People are trying to stay in their homes,” said David McCloskey, owner of David E. McCloskey Remodeling and Building, Altoona. “We convert porches into bathrooms and install downstairs bathrooms. We do a lot of complete additions to homes, with siding, windows and roofs.”

The early spring-like weather has helped local remodelers.

McCloskey said he poured concrete footers on March 6, something he usually doesn’t start until April.

“As soon as the weather hit 60, the phones started ringing off the hook,” Ebersole said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.