Window remodeling projects slow after credits expire

Remodelers feeling the impact of expired tax credits on their window business according to Professional Remodeler's exclusive research.

November 09, 2011

The window business has slowed for many remodelers this year in the wake of the expired tax credits.

That’s according to the latest Professional Remodeler research, which shows that the majority of remodelers are selling fewer windows this year.

Fifty-four percent of remodelers said their window business has declined compared to 2010, while only 18 percent reported an increase in business. That’s in stark contrast to other exterior projects, such as siding, which our research earlier this year showed to be on the upswing, with only 13 percent reporting a decrease in business.

Tax credit impact

That difference seems to be due in large part to the expiration of the $1,500 tax credit at the end of 2010. This year’s smaller credit doesn’t appear to be doing a significant job of driving window work.

“The government tax credit cannibalized future sales,” said a Florida-based exterior remodeler. “Our window business remained consistent plus or minus 10 percent for the past 10 years and is now off 40 percent.”

Fifty-four percent of remodelers said the expiration of the tax credits had decreased their business, although 44 percent said it had no impact on business.

“The expiration of the tax credits is not so much to blame as the tax credits themselves,” said a Wisconsin full-service remodeler. “Either you have perpetual tax credits or never have them. All they do is take away future business for the next one to two years.”

Many remodelers also cited the general downturn in the economy, as well as the new lead paint rules, for the decline in their business this year.

“Cost is always an issue, so increased costs due to EPA rules have reduced the quantity and quality customers are willing to select,” said one remodeler.

“Clients have been looking for less expensive windows with fewer options, and have been phasing their window replacement projects,” said an Ohio full-service remodeler.

Remodelers driving product choice

Remodelers continue to have a major influence over the brands and types of windows that are getting installed.

In fact, 64 percent of remodelers said that their average client relies on them to make all material, style and brand recommendations. Another 19 percent of remodelers said that the average homeowner may have a specific style and material in mind, but they influence the brand. Only 3 percent of remodelers said they have no influence on the brand, material or style when it comes to window installation.

Vinyl and wood are the most common frame materials remodelers are specifying. Vinyl is used by 19 percent of remodelers in all of their projects, while wood is used by 15 percent of remodelers. Seventy-two percent of remodelers use vinyl on at least some projects and 74 percent use wood.

Aluminum, fiberglass and composites are used by a smaller group, with about 60 percent using those materials on some projects. Eight percent of remodelers used aluminum on all their projects, compared to 4 percent who used fiberglass and 2 percent that used composites. Steel frames were used by a much smaller group, with only 22 percent using them on any projects at all.

Energy-efficient features were very popular, with more than 90 percent using at least one such feature on their projects, led by insulated double-pane windows with low-e coatings at 90 percent. More than 60 percent of remodelers used argon- or krypton-filled units over the past year.

Remodelers and homeowners are also opting for a wide variety of window styles. Although double-hung windows, casements and picture windows are the most popular, most window styles were used at least occasionally by more than half of remodelers.

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