Category Archives: Residential Remodeling

BFRI: Residential Remodeling in March 2014 is DOWN 7%

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in March were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 2,771,000. This is down 7% from the revised February rate of 2,994,000 and is down 2% from the March 2013 estimate of 2,841,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in March 2014 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 578,000 (up 8% from February and down 5% from March 2013); South, 1,398,000 (down 2% from February and up 18% from March 2013); Midwest, 399,000 (down 3% from February and down 30% from March 2013); West, 697,000 (down 7% from February and down 6% from March 2013).

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

Historical Values and Subscription Information

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is available as a monthly email with an Excel spreadsheet attachment. Each month’s release contains the full list of historical values for the country and each of the four regions, going back to August of 2004. When you subscribe, you will receive the most recent release within one business day. Click here to subscribe for $150/year. You can also subscribe to the free data release mailing list, which delivers the information you see on this page by email each month.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

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BFRI: Residential Remodeling in February 2014 is DOWN 3%

Data Release: April 16, 2014

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in February were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3,020,000. This is 3% down from the revised January rate of 3,118,000 and is down 3% from the February 2013 estimate of 3,108,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in February 2014 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 524,000 (down 10% from January and down 22% from February 2013); South, 1,423,000 (down 2% from January and up 20% from February 2013); Midwest, 408,000 (up 1% from January and down 42% from February 2013); West, 760,000 (down 4% from January and down 1% from February 2013).

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

Historical Values and Subscription Information

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is available as a monthly email with an Excel spreadsheet attachment. Each month’s release contains the full list of historical values for the country and each of the four regions, going back to August of 2004. When you subscribe, you will receive the most recent release within one business day. Click here to subscribe for $150/year. You can also subscribe to the free data release mailing list, which delivers the information you see on this page by email each month.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

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BFRI: Residential Remodeling in January 2014 is UP 6%

Residential Remodeling in January 2014
Data Release: March 20, 2014

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in January were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3,240,000. This is 6% up from the revised December rate of 3,048,000 and is down 1% from the January 2013 estimate of 3,276,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in January 2013 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 603,000 (up 5% from December and down 21% from January 2013); South, 1,496,000 (up 27% from December and up 22% from January 2013); Midwest, 406,000 (down 29% from December and down 58% from January 2013); West, 894,000 (up 6% from December and up 15% from January 2013).

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

Historical Values and Subscription Information

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is available as a monthly email with an Excel spreadsheet attachment. Each month’s release contains the full list of historical values for the country and each of the four regions, going back to August of 2004. When you subscribe, you will receive the most recent release within one business day. Click here to subscribe for $150/year. You can also subscribe to the free data release mailing list, which delivers the information you see on this page by email each month.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

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BFRI: Residential Remodeling in December 2013 is UP 1%

Residential Remodeling in December 2013

Data Release: February 18, 2014

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in December were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 2,937,000. This is 1% up from the revised November rate of 2,900,000 and is 9 percent above the December 2012 estimate of 2,704,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in December 2013 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 570,000 (down 7% from November and down 27% from December 2012); South, 1,188,000 (up 1% from November and up 14% from December 2012); Midwest, 548,000 (down 10% from November and down 3% from December 2012); West, 837,000 (up 13% from November and up 16% from December 2012).

Viewing the Economic Recovery Through Remodels

“Except for the Northeast, all regions (and the nation as a whole) saw increases in residential remodeling activity in 2013 over 2012” said Joe Emison, Chief Technology Officer at BuildFax.

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

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BFRI: BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index in November 2013 is Down 20%

Residential Remodeling in November 2013

Data Release: January 17, 2014

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in November were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 2,542,000. This is 20% down from the revised October rate of 3,185,000 and is 18 percent below the November 2012 estimate of 3,087,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in November 2013 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 614,000 (down 12% from October and down 29% from November 2012); South, 1,301,000 (up 1% from October and up 7% from November 2012); Midwest, 486,000 (down 31% from October and down 28% from November 2012); West, 546,000 (down 35% from October and down 30% from November 2012).

Viewing the Economic Recovery Through Remodels

“We saw a lower-than-expected November 2013 in all regions but the South, which may have been an after-effect of the October government shutdown,” said Joe Emison, Chief Technology Officer at BuildFax, “although we still expect 2013 to be a bigger year for remodeling than 2012.”

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

Historical Values and Subscription Information

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is available as a monthly email with an Excel spreadsheet attachment. Each month’s release contains the full list of historical values for the country and each of the four regions, going back to August of 2004. When you subscribe, you will receive the most recent release within one business day. Click here to subscribe for $150/year. You can also subscribe to the free data release mailing list, which delivers the information you see on this page by email each month.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

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BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is UP 2% in October 2013

Residential Remodeling in October 2013

Data Release: December 17, 2013

Residential remodels authorized by building permits in the United States in October were at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3,266,000. This is 2% up from the revised September rate of 3,171,000 and is 1 percent above the October 2012 estimate of 3,183,000.

Regional Residential Remodeling

Seasonally-adjusted annual rates of remodeling across the country in October 2013 are estimated as follows: Northeast, 727,000 (down 16% from September and down 16% from October 2012); South, 1,280,000 (up 7% from September and down 10% from October 2012); Midwest, 718,000 (down 8% from September and up 15% from October 2012); West, 817,000 (up 6% from September and up 8% from October 2012).

Viewing the Economic Recovery Through Remodels

“Through the first 10 months of 2013, we have seen a 7% increase in the overall number of residential remodels as compared with 2013,” said Joe Emison, Chief Technology Officer at BuildFax, “and we expect that number to stay the same or improve through the end of 2013.”

About the BuildFax Remodeling Index

The BuildFax Remodeling Index (BFRI) is based on construction permits for residential remodeling projects filed with local building departments across the country. The index estimates the number of properties permitted. The national and regional indexes are based upon a subset of representative building departments in the U.S. and population estimates from the U.S. Census. The BFRI is seasonally-adjusted using the X12 procedure.

Historical Values and Subscription Information

The BuildFax Remodeling Index is available as a monthly email with an Excel spreadsheet attachment. Each month’s release contains the full list of historical values for the country and each of the four regions, going back to August of 2004. When you subscribe, you will receive the most recent release within one business day. Click here to subscribe for $150/year. You can also subscribe to the free data release mailing list, which delivers the information you see on this page by email each month.

About BuildFax

BuildFax is the creator of the first and only national database of historical building permit data. Headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, BuildFax has created a proprietary property intelligence engine that contains building and permitting information from 5,000+ cities and counties throughout the country. As the best and only source of a structure’s “life story,” the BuildFax database continues to grow, currently covering over 60 percent of the U.S. commercial and residential building stock with over 6 billion data points.

Leave a comment

Filed under Residential Remodeling

JCHS: Strategies for Achieving Scale in the Residential Remodeling Industry

Strategies for Achieving Scale in the Residential Remodeling Industry

 by Abbe Will
Research Analyst
Since its inception nearly twenty years ago, the Remodeling Futures Program of the Joint Center for Housing Studies has been investigating trends in contractor size, concentration, performance, and survivorship to better understand the evolving structure of contractors serving the residential remodeling market. Unlike the national homebuilding industry, which saw significant achievements of scale and consolidation in recent decades, the professional remodeling industry continues to be highly fragmented, where the vast majority of remodeling companies are relatively small, single-location businesses that likely will not experience any significant growth over the course of the business’s life-cycle. Two thirds of remodelers are self-employed, and fully half of payroll establishments have total revenues of under $250,000. Yet our research suggests that there are significant benefits to be gained through larger scale businesses.The evidence for the benefits of scale in the remodeling industry is compelling. Comparing the revenue growth of larger-scale remodeling companies to the industry as a whole shows that larger-scale remodelers benefit from significantly stronger revenue growth. Where the average revenue of all residential remodeling contractors increased less than 18% in inflation-adjusted terms during the last industry upturn from 2002-2007, larger-scale firms with annual revenues of approximately $1 million or more increased their average revenue by over 30% during the same period. Additionally, larger-scale remodeling contractors benefit from higher revenues per employee, which implies that they enjoy greater labor productivity (Figure 1). While an admittedly crude measure of efficiency and productivity, the trend is obvious that larger remodeling businesses are seeing a benefit of scale.

Source: Unpublished tabulations of the 2007 Economic Census of Construction, U.S. Census Bureau.

Furthermore, there is evidence that larger-scale remodeling firms suffer significantly lower failure rates across the rocky business cycle (Figure 2). Remodelers with estimated receipts of $1 million or more during the last industry upturn in 2003–04 had a failure rate of only 2.7% that year, and their failure rate remained essentially unchanged during the cyclical downturn in 2009-10. These low and stable failure rates for the largest remodelers are in stark contrast to the roughly 20% failure rates of smaller remodeling businesses. With the efficiency gains that come along with achieving scale economies, larger remodeling companies seem much better equipped to ride out the volatile business cycles in the remodeling industry.

Source: JCHS estimates using U.S. Census Bureau tabulations of the 1989-2010 Business Information Tracking Series.

Although larger-scale remodeling firms enjoy significant benefits to scale, the industry has remained fragmented over time due to the many obstacles to gaining scale such as low barriers of entry, highly customized work, and difficulty attracting capital, to name a few. Understanding how remodeling companies are overcoming these major hurdles in their pursuit of scale economies should provide insights into how the industry is likely to continue evolving over the next several decades, as well as what opportunities exist for more widespread consolidation moving forward.

To this end, the Remodeling Futures Program has been conducting in-depth interviews with several dozen remodeling industry leaders including founders, presidents, and CEOs of larger-scale remodeling companies on the topic of benefits from scale and challenges and strategies for achieving scale. Key research questions for the project focus on exploring the major approaches used for gaining scale, challenges and opportunities unique to each type of strategy, and whether certain types of remodeling specialties or niches are more or less likely to attempt to establish a larger-scale or even national presence.

A key insight gained from these interviews is that successfully achieving scale in the remodeling industry has more typically occurred using strategies outside of the traditional model of organic expansion and acquisition. Common among remodeling companies that have been successful in establishing a larger-scale presence are strategies or approaches that involve strategic partnerships or arrangements, such as:

  • Strategic Alliances: When expanding to new markets, building brand awareness and trust takes a significant investment of time and money, so securing strategic alliances or partnerships with long-standing, nationally known manufacturing and retail brands to sell, furnish, and install products and projects is very effective for gaining entry into new markets with instant name recognition and credibility with consumers, who, given the same quality and price, will choose the brand with which they are already most familiar. Strategic alliances ultimately provide a contractor with a high volume of quality leads in new markets.
  • Franchising: Franchising is a well-established scaling strategy in many industries that allows a business to quickly expand its brand recognition and reach without the challenges of managing each independently-owned and operated franchise location. Franchising in the remodeling industry seems to be more successful with single focus or specialty businesses, such as painting and insurance restoration services that are easier to standardize and streamline.
  • Outside Investment: Pursuing outside investment through private equity partnerships, for example, provides a company with an influx of working financial capital for expanding into new markets, developing additional lines of business or products, or restructuring operations or management to better foster growth. Though a highly effective way to scale a remodeling company toward a national presence, this strategy of securing outside investment has not been more common because investors are deterred by the relatively high-risk nature of such a volatile and fragmented industry.

Since the remodeling industry is so diverse, with business segments and market niches that cover the full spectrum from full-service and design/build firms to specialty replacements and handyman services, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving scale. Companies often employ multiple business strategies and arrangements either consecutively or concurrently. Some of the biggest benefits of scale reported by industry leaders include improved buying power, lower costs, efficiency of centralized accounting and management, and improved use of technology systems, as well as geographic diversity (i.e., not being dependent on the economic strength of one market or region), greater ability to explore new business opportunities, greater consumer recognition and trust, and being able to provide growth opportunities to key team members. The many issues surrounding this topic of strategies, benefits and challenges of achieving scale in the residential remodeling industry will be explored in greater detail in an upcoming Joint Center working paper.

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