In today’s economy, money is tight and foreclosures are rampant. This message isn’t reassuring to new home buyers. Frankly, all of us in home building should be paying attention. Anyone thinking about buying or building a new home needs to take a serious look at renovation and repair instead of new construction. The equation is simple: Home renovation uses less material and more labor than new construction.
New construction uses around 50-50 labor and materials. Most of the expenses go to new materials, and these materials come from all over the place. The HVAC system may be manufactured in Idaho and the garage doors made in Singapore. Meaning that very little of the money spent is going to be invested locally, not to mention the environmental impact of when the land had to be cleared and prepped.
When renovating and repairing an already existing structure, there’s less of an environmental impact as well as the potential tax credits and incentives. So, even if your supplier is buying products manufactured from locations across the United States and abroad, a renovator needs to hire more labor to do the installations and repairs. But the good vibes don’t stop there. The ripple effect continues when laborers working on the renovation projects inject money into the local community when they spend their paychecks on goods and services.
Plus, labor is boosted to 76 percent for renovations and repairs. Data have been collected to support this, and studies show that repairing existing structures produced more jobs than new construction by 50 percent. In fact, a national statistic shows that 41 percent of the cost of home repair goes to labor. For new construction it’s only 28 percent.
Think about the row of abandoned storefronts lining the streets of a decaying downtown or the boarded up house on the corner. If renovated, both of these structures would contribute positively to the community. Dwellings can be reused and retrofitted so as to have a positive effect on the environment, as well. The outward physical improvement would be an obvious plus, but it’s the labor and economic reinvestment that proves even more valuable to the locals.
In this age of overcrowding and recession, it’s crucial to think in terms of reuse and renovation. Builders and consumers both need to think innovatively, adapting to already existing structures in order to cope with the current economy. There will always be a need for new construction, but today’s message is one of balance. To use what we already have in the best possible way, we must think renovation and repair.
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