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Since 2008, many people in the construction and remodeling industries have felt the effects of a struggling economy. However, in recent months some have spotted the light at the end of the tunnel. According to research by the National Association of Home Builders, new home sales are on the rise. As of January, newly constructed home sales were up 15.6% from December and 28.9% from a year ago. With economic improvements on the horizon, what do these stats mean to concrete contractors?

MARKET TREND: The remodel market will be hot92% of home purchases are for existing homes

While increasing, new homes still only make up 8% of total home sales in the U.S. his means that the other 92% of purchases are existing homes. The NAHB also points out that homeowners are staying in their homes for longer than they have in the past. This is a great opportunity for concrete contractors to market their services to those looking to remodel or make improvements to their homes. Whether you specialize in indoor or outdoor concrete work, think about how you can offer cost-effective solutions to homeowners looking for updates or repairs.

Concrete countertops should be marketed as
a better option than laminate and ceramic tile
which consumers find undesirable.

MARKET TREND: The most remodeling dollars are spent on the kitchen and bath$18,758 is the average amount spent for cabinets, countertops and flooring.

According to the most recent data, the average amount spent on cabinets and countertops is $10,395, with flooring close behind at $8,363. In the kitchen, concrete floors and countertops provide excellent alternatives to other materials. Ranking on NAHB’s list of most unwanted features are laminate and ceramic tile countertops. When marketing concrete as a countertop material, focus on what makes it better than laminate and ceramic, such as its durability, resistance to fading and organic appeal. In the bathroom, most homeowners say they prefer both a shower stall and a tub. Learn how to apply vertical overlays so you can transform the walls of a shower, or transfer your skills as a countertop maker into making custom cast bathtubs. Concrete floors can also be used in bathrooms, be sure to apply a non-slip additive for added safety.

Laundry rooms have moved from a luxury to an
essential, market your services for this room.

MARKET TREND: Laundry rooms are the new desired amenity57% of home buyers consider a laundry room an essential amenity

While a laundry room was a luxury thirty years back, today 57% of home buyers consider it an essential. This is another opportunity for concrete contractors to get jobs. Concrete is an excellent material for laundry room floors and counters. Because it is so easy to clean and maintain, concrete will beautifully handle all the messes that present themselves in a laundry room. Lint can be swept away and soap residue wiped off with a damp mop or rag.

MARKET TREND: Energy efficiency warrants higher prices90% of buyers will pay more for a home with lower utility costs

The NAHB reports that 90% of buyers would choose a highly efficient home with lower utility costs instead of one without those features that costs 2-3 percent less. Concrete can be an integral part of helping homes become more energy efficient. Concrete flooring will retain heat, reducing heating costs in the winter. For even more efficiency, radiant heating can be installed within the floors for a very affordable heating method. Recycled materials can also be added to the concrete mix to make the product itself more sustainable. Adding recycled glass to a countertop can produce a beautiful decorative effect unlike anything else.

MARKET TREND: Your reputation precedes you70% of homeowners are influenced to hire by a contractor's professional designations (license, certifications, etc.)

When hiring someone to do work at their home, people want someone they can trust to do a good job at a fair price. Out of the homeowners surveyed by the NAHB, the most important factor in the mind of the buyers is “reputation for quality construction,” followed by “reputation for completing projects on budget.” Furthermore, 70% of those surveyed said that contractors with professional designations, such as licenses and certifications, are “more professional and credible,” “provide better quality work and craftsmanship,” “provide better service levels,” and are “more reliable”.

Note: This article contains statistics from Special Studies performed by the NAHB.

Read our 2011 report on decorative concrete & the economy