According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, consumer spending on home improvement is down 12% from it’s peak last year; a downward trend that’s probably going to continue. And that’s leading to major cuts in prices on everything from wood and other materials to labor.
“We talked to many highly-rated service companies on Angie’s List and we find they’re taking on smaller jobs and potentially giving a break on labor… 10% or more off the price of labor. So don’t be afraid to negotiate a good deal.”
-Angie Hicks, Angie’s List
Translation? If you’ve got the money, now could be the time for that maintenance or improvement project. But be aware of two things.
First, projects may cost less than in year’s past, but may also return less. According to Remodeling Magazine, the top three projects in terms of being able to recoup their cost are adding decks, replacing siding and minor kitchen remodels. Last year they all returned about 80% of what they cost… down a few percentage points from ’07.
Second, be aware that in desperate times, some contractors may do desperate things: like cutting corners… even ripping you off. So shop carefully, check credentials, ask for references, and keep from getting nailed.
Bottom line? When it comes to getting contractors to sharpen that pricing pencil, you’ll never find a better time than right now. Just be aware of all the rip-offs out there and be super, super careful.