Home Improvement Professionals Report Feeling More Confident, More Concerned with Labor

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Confidence among home improvement professionals is booming. After a quarterly survey of thousands of remodelers, carpenters, painters, plumbers and roofers, the HomeAdvisor Farnsworth Index reports that over three-quarters of those home improvement professionals feel highly confident in their business prospects over the coming year. The survey was administered between May 11 and May 26 to professionals in 13 categories. According to the survey, 77.5 percent of professionals expressed confidence that their businesses will grow in the next 12 months. Landscaping and mechanical companies foresee the most revenue growth.

The report tells us what we already know about this time of year. The number of home improvement projects rose this quarter, and professionals are busier than ever for spring and summer. According to HomeAdvisor, both the number and size of projects has increased in the first half of 2017.

“Homeowners are opening their pocketbooks wider and commissioning bigger improvement projects as more than half (55.6 percent) of the businesses surveyed indicate that the average size of their projects has increased over the last 12 months,” said Brad Hunter, chief economist for HomeAdvisor. “We see a similar trend in HomeAdvisor’s internal data with an increased demand for discretionary improvement projects. Whereas four or five years ago, homeowners tended to do the bare minimum to keep their homes livable, deferring some of the less crucial projects, now they are feeling flush enough to indulge in some luxury.”

Labor Shortage Causes Concern

That doesn’t necessarily mean everything is rosy in the home improvement business. Skilled labor shortages continue to challenge the industry, and that’s not a problem going away anytime soon. While business owners seem less concerned with labor costs, they report their ability to staff jobs is becoming more and more difficult. Labor shortages not only limit industry growth, but create longer lead times for projects. According to the report, remodelers and landscaping companies face the greatest challenges acquiring skilled labor and report the least confidence hiring will improve in the next year.

“A national shortage of skilled labor is one of the few headwinds facing the home improvement industry,” Hunter said. “The home improvement industry is growing rapidly regardless, but it would be able to grow even faster if not for the labor shortage.”

An Overall Positive Economic Outlook

Another growing concern for home improvement business owners comes from uncertainty in government policy and regulation. According to the survey, owners are reporting slightly more negative outlook quarter-over-quarter, with regard to the political climate.  Taxes, environmental legislation, health care, and immigration lead the list of concerns. Meanwhile, business owners maintain a predominantly positive outlook with regard to the economy.

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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