Market Leaders: Homeowners More Cautious in Boston

Homeowners are opting for smaller projects after a longer process.

September 30, 2009

Part of our 2009 Market Leaders coverage.

Homeowners in Boston are still buying remodeling projects — they're just taking a lot longer to make decisions and going with smaller jobs when they do finally decide.

Business is about 50 percent of what it was last year, says Robert Ernst, president of FBN Construction Co. Not coincidentally, the company's average job size is 50 percent of what it was a year ago.

"We've still sold a lot of work this year, we're just seeing much smaller jobs," Ernst says.

The company has also experienced a longer cycle time from first customer contact to decision. In the past, that's been a 30- to 60-day period. This year it's taking 90 to 120 days.

Clients are being much more cautious than in the past. They are more carefully checking out their options and talking to more remodelers. Although most of FBN's clients are not using financing to pay for projects, finances are also playing a role in the delays. Many homeowners are wary of using investments to pay for the projects and possibly losing money in the process.

"They want to play the market to get the best opportunity to get the best return when cashing out to pay for the remodel," Ernst says.

Ernst doesn't expect the market to change anytime soon. He's not projecting a decline in business from this year in 2010, but says he isn't predicting any growth either.

No. 2 in Boston
Chairman: John DeShazo
President: Robert Ernst
Specialty: Full-service remodeler
2008 projects: 60
2008 volume: $8.9 million
Projected 2009 volume: $6 million
Employees: 18
Years in business: 30

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