Top trends offer opportunities and challenges

by lbanyay@solagroup.com

This coming March, Qualified Remodeler will celebrate 40 years serving the remodeling industry. In preparation for a special issue this spring, our editors have been looking at the bigger picture of the remodeling industry going forward, and without jumping the gun, here are some trends, I think, which offer the greatest challenge and/or opportunity for remodelers in the coming years.

Green/energy-efficient remodeling

For more than 20 years, green remodeling has been the ‘next big thing.’ We are now at a stage where there is critical mass. Millions of homeowners now see remodeling and improvement as a means by which to make their homes more comfortable and more resource efficient. In the past, local programs and subsidies, in places like Austin, Texas, and Portland, Ore., have been drivers. But new codes, particularly California’s Title 24, with its goal of making all new homes ‘net zero’ by 2020, now provide a more broad-based catalyst. If you are a builder, a remodeler, a kitchen designer or an architect in California, you are already actively in the process of researching new products and new methods that will get them ready. Very soon, ‘green’ remodeling will simply be ‘good’ remodeling.

Cooking enthusiasts

The interest in gourmet cooking and baking is on the rise. Among other reasons, this trend will spur the growth in kitchen remodeling throughout the next decade. 

Back to the city

Millennials, the latest generational cohort to buck conventional home ownership patterns, are confounding the experts. They are not buying new homes at nearly the levels of previous generations. Nor are they marrying and forming households at the same rate. But they do tend live in urban areas. Living in urban areas means that older housing stock will need renovation, improvement and remodeling.

Compliance

Remodeling is well known as a business with low barriers to entry. Licensing is minimal and capital requirements are low. But lately, the table stakes have been raised by OSHA and EPA, with costly requirements of remodelers to record and document their compliance procedures. As we have seen around the country, remodelers who don’t comply face huge fines that can put them out of business.

Houzz.com and other online photo venues to come

Seemingly overnight, Houzz is the place where homeowners browse images of designed spaces. Among other things, the service has demonstrated consumers’ ravenous appetite for design ideas, especially when they come from such a deep reservoir as the Web. The opportunity for remodelers is clear. Maintain a good presence on Houzz and other online venues, and new clients will find you. This phenomenon has made clients more knowledgeable than ever before, increasing the demands on you to know more and to spend more time educating your prospects.

Universal design

Seventy-eight million Boomers can’t be wrong. Each passing day, tens of thousands of Baby Boomers are reaching age 65. Where the Eisenhower generation may have been happy to move to Sun City and other ‘active adult’ communities around the country, many Boomers have expressed a desire to age in place. Higher demand for universal design features will certainly drive a steady stream of business for remodelers steeped in the art and science of this new discipline. The real winners will be those who have taken the time to become Certified Aging in Place Specialists or CAPS.

Remodeling and home improvement will remain strong in the coming years. Your response to these important trends among others, will go a long way to determining your ability to capitalize on the overall market opportunity now available.  

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