The Buzz Of Remodeling In A Recovering Economy

Posted on | June 6, 2013 | No Comments

Have a listen in most any neighborhood today and you’ll hear them – hammers, nail guns and electric saws – telltale signs of a recovering economy. With a renewed sense of optimism, an increasing number of homeowners across the state are calling upon trusted remodelers and builders to update existing homes – or remodel newly acquired homes.

Images Courtesy of Shea Custom ©

To explain to us how homeowners are addressing renovations, North Carolina Design reached out to Charlotte remodeler Gil Shea. We felt that Gil would have a finger on the pulse of things since the company he runs with other family members, Shea Custom, was most recently honored as Contractor of the Year by the Charlotte Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) for Best Entire House Renovation, $500,001 – $1,000,000.

Post-recession, how has the mindset of homeowners changed in terms of home remodeling?

I think that today, homeowners are being smarter with their money and they’re spending it wisely. They are not over extending themselves like we saw pre-recession. They are making nice changes to their homes in their remodels – whether it is a major facelift, kitchen update or outdoor living space – but they are very careful that they can afford what they do. They also have a clear idea of what they want. They come to us and they tell us what their budget is. They may have some room to go up, but prior to the recession a lot of people just went over their means.

A lot of homeowners love the neighborhood they live in but they have outgrown their home. In a whole house remodel, how does your relationship with homeowners begin?

Generally folks come to us early in the process with a full set of drawn plans. They tend to know what they want and are ready to pull the trigger on that. We get a lot of people calling, saying, ‘Hey can you estimate this for us?’ We have always been very detailed on what they get. We are able to give them a figure based on our experience – letting them know what it is going to cost – following up to see if it is within their budget. If it’s not, we can tone the plans down a bit. We have also run into some occasions where it’s less expensive to level the house and rebuild than it is to remodel.

What areas of the house are homeowners most often updating?

In remodels, that would be outdoor living spaces, kitchens, master baths, and family rooms. These are the areas that people consider to be the most important parts of the home, places where they pay special attention, spend time as a family, and pamper themselves. Outdoor living spaces are really in demand and we get the most calls for these right now. People are interested in a covered outdoor living area with a really nice outdoor fireplace and barbeque.

The kitchen and the family room – those are the two primary living areas of the home. It’s amazing how kitchens have grown over the years. Just as the kitchen has increased in size, the living room keeps shrinking. Formal living rooms now are more like studies now – if they’re not gone all together. People are pouring their money into the areas where they spend most of their time and that’s the kitchen and the family room.

The kitchen continues to evolve, what features do you see homeowners incorporating into the design?

As I said, the kitchen continues to get larger. It functions as much more than just a kitchen – it’s the place where kids do homework, where people gather when they entertain, where there is a TV. Most homes have wi-fi, so it would not be unusual to have a laptop or iPad on the island. Islands in and of themselves have become very important – in that they’re large. People like large kitchen islands. I’ve even seen some plans where there is an option for two kitchen islands. It has evolved into perhaps the most important room in the house, almost an extension of your family room.

The appliances in the kitchen continue to get better and better. They are definitely are part of the décor of the kitchen. Stainless steel remains very popular. The technology of appliances continues to improve. This is definitely not your mother’s kitchen.

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