Cincinatti As Americans grow accustomed during the recession to spending more time at home and living in the same places longer, home-improvement companies are regaining momentum.
“My wife and I had thought of this as more of an in-between house,” said Scott Nichols, 50, who had considered moving from his suburban Cincinnati home to a condo or ranch-style house. “Now we have decided to concentrate on making our current home exactly like we want it, pay it off and stay.”
An insurance marketer who lives in Union Township, Ohio, Nichols hired a handyman service to knock out a wall between his kitchen and family room to make home entertaining easier.
Though construction and major remodeling remain sluggish — walloped by the housing market’s plunge — demand has risen at big-box home-improvement stores for items to make small repairs and maintain lawns and gardens. Analysts say Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. Inc. are likely to show the benefits when they report their first-quarter earnings this week.
Handyman, painting and floor covering businesses also say they’re booking more small jobs in recent months. Nichols’ contractor said his project was part of a trend.
“We started to pick up a few weeks ago,” said Dan Landon, owner of the Milford-based House Doctors franchise. “And then it was like someone flipped a switch and I’m booked solid.”
Landon said his employees have been doing mostly general repairs like fixing doors, windows and decks and refreshing bathrooms and other areas.
Some consumers are tackling the smaller projects themselves rather than hiring professionals, repairing instead of replacing items and doing more comparison pricing, retailers and service companies said.
“Whether it’s good times or bad, homeowners are going to preserve their investment,” said Karen Cobb, spokeswoman for Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s. “When people stay at home more and are less quick to move, they are more likely to notice things like the coat of paint that needs refreshing or a dripping sink.”