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The time to remodel is now

Business is up and prices will follow, experts say

August 15, 2012

With the real estate market heating up, national research shows more homeowners are deciding to improve the home they have.

“The home prices have gone up in metro Detroit for May and June, according to the National Association of Realtors,” said Mat Vivona, president of Father & Son Construction, “so people are beginning to feel better about their homes instead of seeing years of decline.

“The homes that are going on the market that are in nice shape are selling quicker, so it actually encourages people to remodel.”

Research from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry shows that remodeling companies believe the business climate is slightly more positive than at the same time last year and are forecasting stronger sales in the months ahead because of projects that homeowners have postponed, lower interest rates and improving home prices.

Local companies echo the sentiment.

“The vibes that I’m getting from my friends in the business is that there’s been a general upswing in the amount of interest … in remodeling,” said Gary Grabowski, past president of the Southeast Michigan National Association of the Remodeling Industry Chapter and owner of Greater Home Repairs and Remodeling in Beverly Hills, Mich.

He said part of that is due to pent-up demand, and most customers calling him are tackling needed repairs to their homes that they had put off.

“They don’t want to wait through another winter; they don’t want to have water dripping from the ceiling in the basement for another winter,” he said. “It’s more of the need to than want to.”

Nowadays, though, customers are getting bids from several companies before proceeding with a project, something Grabowski said is different than the past.

“People are more cautious about choosing a remodeling company,” he said. “People who have been through remodeling in the past, they understand it’s important to find a company who’s a good fit — it’s not just about who’s the cheapest.”

Vivona said bathroom remodeling is still a booming business — “that’s one thing that never died, even in the recession” — but more homeowners are redoing their kitchens now, a typically more-expensive project.

He said they’ve also gotten more calls for room additions lately than in the past few years.

“When you start seeing an increase in the demand for increased living space, that’s always a good sign, too,” he said.

He said the company’s business is up about 8 percent this year, and part of the reason may be that banks are “a little bit more willing” now to lend money for home improvement projects.

“Right now, everything would be a good investment,” Vivona said. “As soon as new home building picks up steam, everything is going to go up.”

Grabowski said business was up for his company by about 6 percent in 2011 “and that was coming off of two very bad years,” but now they are working harder for the same amount of business.

And he echoed Vivona’s sentiments that putting off a project will only mean it’s more expensive when it’s finally done.

“Prices will only go up,” he said. “As the cost of vinyl products that use oil increase, the cost of shipping products … those are the things that only will continue to increase in price.”

For more information about Father & Son Construction, call (800) 380-8888 or visit

For more information about Greater Home Repairs and Remodeling, call (248) 646-6975.


About the author

Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.


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