Featured in: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Tammy Joyner
Metro-area homes may not be selling, but many are getting makeovers.
While a report released Friday said spending on home renovations is trending down nationally, Atlanta contractors say the number of projects here has gone up the last six to 12 months, and that business has heated up even more this spring.
More homeowners, it seems, are deciding to wait out the recession and hunker down at home with some added creature comforts. Instead of going out to dinner and a movie, folks are popping their own popcorn in fully loaded home theaters. They’re entertaining in kitchens that take a page out of House Beautiful. And now that summer’s here, they’re looking to move outdoors onto patios with built-in stone grills, wet bars and refrigerators.
Helping fuel the renovation rush: Many projects are now being done for far less than they were a few years ago when the housing market was humming. Contractors are competing fiercely for work, and homeowners are pushing for lower prices.
Fulton County officials say they haven’t seen a noticeable increase in work permits for home remodeling. But that doesn’t mean work isn’t happening, said Bobby Smith, development service manager for the Department of Environmental and Community Development. Many jobs don’t require permits; some people don’t know to apply for one, Smith said.
“There could be a lot of remodeling going on and we wouldn’t necessarily know about it,” he said.
Renovators like Randy Glazer say they are finding steady work, but of a different sort.
Instead of big jobs like additions, his company, Glazer Design & Construction in Brookhaven, is doing more kitchens and bath restorations and earth-friendly projects.
One reason: the credit crunch. In the last five months, Glazer said, he’s noticed that “it’s hard for people to get loans to add a second floor to their home. Banks aren’t willing to extend loans right now.” Banks that are lending are asking homeowners to fork over 30 to 40 percent in down payment on their projects.
“A lot of people can’t do that,” Glazer said.
The full article is no longer available online at the AJC.