Hundreds of millions of years ago, scientists think, a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, who froze to death in the ensuing “nuclear winter” created by the dust cloud of the impact. With the dinosaurs gone, a few small furry warm-blooded animals communing in a cave and who could survive the cold had a new chance: to take over and, eventually, become the dominant life form on the planet.

Now that’s us.

I’m working on a similar theory of my own, but it’s not about biology — it’s about the economy. I think that the recent (and on-going) economic catastrophe that we’re living through is kind of similar to an asteroid collision. It’s wiping out the dinosaurs … but the small creatures who survive it may now have the opportunity of a lifetime, and more.

When it comes to theories of evolution, there’s more than one flavor. One school of thought thinks evolution is gradual and continuous. Another school thinks that evolution comes in rapid bursts, with long periods of “stasis” in between. These days, I think, the home building and remodeling industry might be ready for one of those sudden leaps.

Times are tough in construction. A lot of people have left the industry. But I’m seeing some people hang in there and do some very cool new things. Like Jim Finlay, a Boston-area deck builder who’s embracing all kinds of innovative technology: composite plastic decking, light-gauge steel beams, helical footings, and computer graphics visualizations for design and sales.

Or like Christian Corson, a builder/remodeler who’s currently building a house in Maine to the Passive House standard, using a few ideas he borrowed from others and a few ideas of his own. This house will have essentially no heating bill — in Maine.

Sure, in a way, they’re forced to do it — they’re just trying to survive. But that’s not really what it’s about. These guys are evolving. They’re creating. They’re the next wave.

Hey, listen, I’ve got an idea: Let’s remodel.

—Ted Cushman, a regular REMODELING blogger, writes the Coastal Connection newsletter and frequently contributes to REMODELING’s sister publicationTHE JOURNAL OF LIGHT CONSTRUCTION.