Farnsworth tells PDIS what to expect in remodeling

Nashville, Tenn. -- Bradley Farnsworth, president of the eponymous research-based consulting firm (The Farnsworth Group), delivered an address to ProDealer Summit attendees Friday that outlined a progressively greener near-future outlook for remodeling.

In his presentation, titled "Emerging Trends in Remodeling: A Consumer and Contractor Perspective," Farnsworth detailed the experiences and expectations of architects, contractors and remodelers.

An increased focus on materials, but especially green features and energy efficiency, was at the forefront across the board. However, the impetus is shifting toward eco-friendly for its own sake, and not just as a means of saving money. Among architects, 48% mentioned being greener or more energy-efficient in the next five years, with 40% of contractors and remodelers saying the same.

An overwhelming amount of respondents also expect smaller home sizes in the near future (62% of architects), due in large part to rising housing and construction costs (63%) and higher energy costs (26%).

Expenses, however, do not paint the whole picture in this downsizing trend: 77% reported increased interest in urban areas, whereas interest in suburban regions actually declined (51%). An increasingly urban population portends a decrease in average living space square footage.

That's also because consumers have other priorities than elbow room: access to amenities, walkable communities, access to mass transit and availability of jobs were all among the most attractive community features for potential homeowners.

The outlook for remodeling paints a slightly different picture: though green features are equally big, much of the market opportunities are oriented toward retrofitting homes for an aging population. Layout and accessibility accounted for 38% of remodeling motives, compared to 33% for energy efficiency.

Though increasing labor costs and lack of qualified labor are the biggest near-term issues for the sector, proper handling of these various growth trends can facilitate short-term growth of as much as 12 to 14%, said Farnsworth.

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