Housing starts are up, but not much
After a disturbingly disappointing residential construction tally for October, the Department of Commerce’s housing start report for November saw an uptick in activity, but not nearly enough to celebrate.
November housing starts, expressed as a seasonally adjusted annual rate, increased to 555,000 in November. That’s up 3.9% from 534,000 in October, but November’s rate is down 5.8% from November 2009, which was until today the lowest November number on record.
The story for single-family starts was similar — ahead of last month, but below last year’s pace. The government data released Thursday morning showed single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 465,000 — 6.9% above October’s revised figure, but below November 2009’s pace of 504,000.
Building permits declined 4.0% compared to October, and declined 14.7% compared to the November 2009 estimate.
On a regional basis, the Northeast led the nation in positive numbers. Compared with last year, total starts and single-family starts increased 19.7% and 19.1%, respectively. On a month to month basis, Northeastern starts declined slightly.
In the Midwest, total and single-family starts increased 15.8% and 15.1%, respectively, compared with October.
On the negative end of the regional spectrum, single-family starts in the West declined 23.6% compared with November 2009.
Lumberyards top choice for builders, remodelers
Builders and remodelers steer the majority of their business to LBM dealers, according to a study just released by The Farnsworth Group.
Conducted via online surveys with 400 independent builders, remodelers and builders/remodelers in the United States in November 2010, the results showed that both builders and remodelers use lumber and building material dealers as their primary source for purchasing materials 70% of the time. Warehouse home centers serve as the primary source for nearly one-third of remodelers but just 12% of builders.
Specialty wholesale distributors were the primary source for about 10% of both builders and remodelers, while specialty wholesalers were a clear third choice for remodelers at 13%
Fewer than 20% of builders and remodelers anticipate purchasing more through different channels in the future.
Builders and remodelers cited somewhat different priorities for selecting suppliers, though for both, product availability reigned as the No. 1 factor. Price was nearly as important as availability for builders. For remodelers, availability was followed by quality products, customer service and price, which were all rated similarly. The importance of availability as the top factor in the decision-making process illustrates that in some cases remodelers are willing to pay a little more for the sake of having the product in stock and ready to install.
Both builders and remodelers were unequivocally certain about how they wanted to receive communications from manufacturers and suppliers: e-mail, followed by magazine advertising, Internet and websites. They similarly prioritized the type of information they were interested in: new products, technical specs, specials/offers/discounts and industry information.
The Farnsworth Group is an Indianapolis-based strategy, consulting and market research firm in the home improvement, construction and building supply industries.
Stock expands its Coleman Floor business
Stock Building Supply’s Coleman Floor Co. began serving four new markets in the eastern United States.
The new areas of business are described as Washington, D.C.; Baltimore/New Jersey/Pennsylvania; Charleston, S.C.; and Greenville, S.C.
The company now serves seven Eastern U.S. markets and will continue to expand, according to Steve Wilson, Coleman’s director. “Flooring choices have become increasingly important in residential building and remodeling. We provide customized solutions and reliable installation to keep our customers’ projects on schedule and within budget.”
Through its Coleman Floor division, Stock offers professional home builders and contractors a full range of installed flooring products.
In the Northeast, Mike Hagen has joined Coleman Floor as market manager. Hagen has more than a decade of flooring industry and production experience and most recently served as branch manager for Creative Touch Interiors’ New Jersey-Pennsylvania market. Wayne Martin, a 31-year veteran of Coleman Floor, will lead its expansion efforts in South Carolina in addition to his management responsibilities for the North Carolina operations.