LAS VEGAS — If you’ve put off redoing that kitchen or adding a deck while waiting for the economy to perk up, welcome to the club.
Like the rest of the housing market, home improvements and remodeling plunged during the recession as consumers hunkered down.
But now that economic conditions are improving, the forecast for home fix-ups is looking up, too.
“Future market indicators, which have been lagging a little bit, have jumped up,” said Paul Emrath, a research vice president with the National Association of Home Builders. “Calls for bids and appointments for remodeling proposals are increasing significantly.
“They are basically as high as they have ever been,” Emrath told builders meeting for the industry’s annual exposition this week in Las Vegas.
The outlook for home remodeling in the year ahead is the best it’s been in almost a decade, based on the most recent remodeling industry surveys by the homebuilders’ association.
Home improvement expenditures are forecast to rise by almost a third from the worst of the market in early 2011 to late this year.
Remodeling fell by about 30 percent during the recession.
“That’s not as big as the decline in housing starts, which was closer to 80 percent,” Emrath said. ”Our forecast is for slow and steady increases going forward.
“There is still pent-up activity waiting to be released,” he said. “We had a lot of projects put off as we went through the decline.”
Nationwide, the most popular home remodeling jobs, based on total expenditures, include kitchen remodels, bathroom upgrades and bedroom add-ons, according to a new study released this week by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
“There is pent-up demand and stuff that has been put off,” said Harvard housing researcher Kermit Baker.
Baker said Americans have spent big dollars repairing and remodeling formerly foreclosed and distressed homes, about $10 billion in 2011.
Researchers are also predicting a surge in home retrofitting to improve energy efficiency. “We still think there is a lot of opportunity for greening up the housing stock,” Baker said.
Houston remodeler Bill Shaw said many homeowners get sticker shock when they finally decide to remodel.
Shaw said during the recession when remodeling business lagged, his industry saw new competition from traditional builders.