Examining the remodeling market crash

Our annual Business Results study reveals the depth of the downturn

March 31, 2009



View the Professional Remodeler 2009 Business Results

View the Professional Remodeler 2009 Business Results broken down by geographic region. Includes charts and graphs. 

There's little doubt that 2008 was a brutal year in the housing industry, and unlike previous ones most remodelers did not emerge unscathed.

We saw early signs of turmoil in 2007, but 2008 was the year that the remodeling downturn really hit remodelers across the country. Almost every indicator in our 7th annual Business Results Survey points to a shrinking market in 2008.

Besides giving us a snapshot of the industry, the study also provides a benchmark for you to compare your company against others across the country. With more than 400 respondents, this year's study allows you to see how your company measures up across several areas, including expenses, revenues, marketing, labor and sales.

PAIN AT THE LOW-AND HIGH-END Companies of different sizes have different cost structures, challenges and profit goals, so we've looked at several areas through that filter. We classified the industry into four groups based on 2008 revenues: less than $500,000, $500,000 to $999,999, $1 million to $3 million and more than $3 million. The tables on this page show what the "average" company of each size looks like.


(For reference, 29 percent of respondents had revenues less than $500,000; 21 percent were between $500,000 and $999,999; 32 percent fell between $1 million and $3 million; and 18 percent had revenues of more than $3 million.)

The biggest difference between the various company groups was average job size, from a low of $5,248 for the smallest firms and $77,687 for the largest. The numbers seem to support the anecdotal evidence that job sizes, especially in the high end, decreased in 2008. Those companies, over $3 million saw their average job size drop by almost $60,000, from $133,456 in 2007 to $77,687 last year, while the total number of jobs increased from 157 to 181.

The smallest firms were also hurt, too. Firms with revenue under $500,000 saw the average job drop to $5,248 — barely half of the 2007 level of $9,847 — and job numbers increase more than 50 percent, from 26 to 41. Perhaps this represents an increasing reliance on handyman projects at the bottom of the industry or the increasing competition from former builders and subcontractors for the smallest projects. The middle two groups actually saw job sizes slightly increase.

Although not reflected on the tables, larger companies were also much more likely to belong to a trade association. Nearly 70 percent of companies with volume of more than $1 million belong to a trade association, compared with 44 percent of those with revenues less than $1 million. Overall, 41 percent of respondents were members of NAHB, 25 percent were members of NARI and 14 percent were members of NKBA.

Listen to what three of our Market Leaders have to say about the condition of the market:

Bob Birner, Amazing Siding & Renewal by Andersen, Houston

Joe Christensen, Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen, Poway, Calif.

Michael McCutcheon, McCutcheon Construction, Berkeley, Calif.

To view the rest of the survey, click on the links below:

Business Results Survey Reports:

Revenues take a plunge

Labor is top expense

Small workforce the norm

The amazing shrinking job

Repeats and referrals dominate

Lean sales operations



417 remodelers completed the survey via the Internet. Data were collected from January 9 through February 6, 2009. Survey invitations were sent to random samples of subscribers to Professional Remodeler print and electronic editions as well as to members of Remodelers Advantage.

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