Of course, kitchen remodels, home additions, and other expensive home improvement projects haven't disappeared in a single year. In fact, ServiceMagic.com (a nationwide resource connecting homeowners to contractors in their area) has actually seen increases in the number of requests for kitchen, bath, and basement remodels, as well as an increase in the number of requests for additions to an existing structure in 2008. However, the most notable change in ServiceMagic's "additions and remodels" section from 2006 to 2008 was a more than 100% increase in the number of requests for major home repairs!
The Benefits of Repair
Obviously, in many cases of repair vs. replacement there are considerable savings to be found by fixing what you already have. However, repair is also better for the environment in many cases as it doesn't require the energy expenditure needed to produce new materials/components. Repairs also tend to take less time than replacement, which lets you enjoy the fruits of your home improvement dollar even faster!
What We're Fixing
Calls for repair have basically increased across the board, but a dramatic increase can be seen in repairs for the most necessary home systems like heating, plumbing, and electrical. Requests for water heater repair increased from 4,375 in 2006 to 9,893 in 2008; faucet, fixture, and pipe repair increased from 32,541 to 56,413 and requests for furnace repair increased from 12,291 to 20,591!
Behind the Trends
Just because gas prices rose, real estate prices dropped, and banks and industry experienced hard times doesn't mean a leaky faucet or poorly functioning furnace is going to magically begin to work. When the systems we use everyday are performing poorly, leaving them unattended tends to cost homeowners money as well as comfort; in uncertain economic times it simply makes more sense to have these systems repaired as soon as possible.
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Replacement and Repair that Lasts
Unfortunately, a repair (or even a replacement) is not always a foolproof solution. Though there is no way to guarantee a fix will last, there are several things you can do to increase the odds of your home improvement money going the distance.
1. If you don't know what you are doing, hire someone who does.
2. Investing a little more initially for a quality component often saves you money in the long run.
3. Fixing a problem as soon as you notice it is generally faster and less costly than putting off a repair till later.
4. Energy efficiency is more important now than ever before; opting for fixtures and components that are energy efficient is a great way to prepare for the future and make sure your systems don't quickly become outdated.
5. Cutting corners often leads to more problems in the future. Discuss with your contractor exactly what needs to be done, and make sure that everything in the project is completed before you call it finished!