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Malanie Brandt (right) and Neftali Feliciano check out Champion's exhibit at the show.
Patricia Vaughan and Ray Sloan talk to a Champion rep while Asher Walls relaxes with his iPad at the show.
BY CATHY JETT
Tailor Made Kitchens & Baths Inc. is booking more remodeling jobs now than it did before the housing bubble burst.
Many who bought when prices were skyrocketing are staying put, and they want to freshen and upgrade what they've got, said President Patricia C. Kropac.
"Fortunately, people have the money to remodel," she said during last weekend's Virginia Home & Garden Show at The Meadow Event Park in Doswell.
Remodeling is on the upswing, according to both remodelers at the show and the latest figures from the National Home Builders Association.
The Washington-based trade association's quarterly remodeling index hit 50 in the third quarter of 2012, the highest level since the third quarter of 2005. It was even higher in the South, where it climbed to 52 from 46.
An RMI above 50 indicates that more remodelers are reporting market activity is higher compared to the prior quarter than are reporting it is lower.
Current remodeling activity was particularly strong in owner-occupied housing, one of the market segments the index tracks. It ranged between 55 and 60.
"Part of it is that financing is starting to loosen up," said John Henley, president of Total Remodeling Systems in Winchester. "People are coming in with the idea that they can finance a project."
Up until 2005, about 40 percent of customers took out loans to pay for the remodeling work his company did in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington and Maryland, he said. After the market nose-dived, so did financing.
"It's still not as good as it used to be," said Henley, "but people are coming in with the idea that they can finance [a remodeling project]."
Peggy Pierron, a marketing rep for Capital Remodeling, said the homeowners she's talked to in the past six months seem to be doing more research than they did previously. They either know what they want when they stop at her booth or are shopping around.
Customers for Midlothian-based Tailor Made Kitchens & Baths Inc are being careful about how they're spending their remodeling dollars, said Kropac.
They'll pick an expensive wood for cabinets, but go for a simpler, less expensive style, for example. Or they'll choose a trendy granite countertop, and then a less expensive vinyl tile instead of a ceramic version.
"They're not getting as much froufrou," said Kropac.
Bathroom remodeling jobs are more popular than kitchen redos because bathrooms typically get more wear and tear and are cheaper to renovate than kitchens, she said.
Mike Ridenour, owner of Trinity Renovations in Mechanicsville, said many of his customers are replacing bathtubs with walk-in showers. Glass-enclosed versions like the one he had on display at the show make bathrooms look larger, he said, and people don't have to step over a tub to get into them.
Energy-efficient products such as windows and sunrooms made with high-performance glass also rank high on homeowners' list of priorities, said several salesmen at the show.
The number of people who have had Renewal by Anderson's Low-E4 glass windows has grown significantly in the past year, said sales rep Anthony Precopio. And Champion, a national company with a showroom on State Route 3 near BJ's, saw orders for its Comfort 365 glass windows and other products double in 2012.
"We're already busy for January, which is a slow time for us," said Champion sales rep Matt Lunka. "I think we'll double again."
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407