ServiceMagic.com is the nation's leading website connecting homeowners to prescreened, customer-rated contractors. With more than six million service requests from homeowners in 2010, ServiceMagic is providing valuable data to the public in terms of how home project spending trends change in both overall size and scope, as well as specific categories of projects that have seen increases and decreases as compared to the previous year.
Here is the most recent Home Remodeling & Repair Index
For the first half of 2011, year-over-year growth for additions and remodeling requests has remained soft and is down 22% nationally as homeowners focused on energy-efficient home improvement projects and renovations that increased overall living quality versus home projects that increased the re-sale value. The softness in remodeling activity can be attributed to the spikes that were seen in the early part of 2010 as pent-up demand unraveled from homeowners who held back during the worst years of the economic downturn. With much of that pent up demand now out of the system, the current trends, while down relative to last year's numbers, are on track with normalized market activity.
For the first half of 2011, solar energy is the emerging story with requests for residential solar installations up 52% nationwide with positive trends in all regions of the country. Likely this is the result of the new financing and incentive programs for solar energy available in certain areas of the country. Homeowners who invested in solar are not looking for instant savings as 31% of homeowners indicated that they expect to see a return on their solar investment within one to three years, followed by 29% who expect a return within four to six years.
Following the homeowner trends around living quality and energy efficiency, it's no surprise that energy improvement projects this year are up substantially year-over-year with increases in heating (+34%), air conditioning (+14%), and window coverings (+17%). The nationwide survey revealed that the majority of homeowners feel that energy efficiency is an important consideration in their home improvement projects and cited the top motivating factors as saving on energy bills (35%), protecting the environment (25%) and improving home comfort (23%).
As part of the nationwide survey, we asked homeowners to identify which areas of their home they find most embarrassing. The top three responses were the backyard (26%), the kitchen (23%) and bathroom (20%). While we are currently below the increased remodeling activity levels from a year ago, this survey indicates that there are still plenty of homeowners looking to invest in home improvement projects when the time is right.