ServiceMagic says it has seen a 22% decline in remodeling requests for the first half of 2011. According to the company’s Home Remodeling & Repair Index January-June 2011, home­owners say that their motivation for projects is to increase the living quality of their homes rather than the home’s resale value. The report shows a few bright spots throughout the country (see map), as well as a 52% nationwide increase in requests for residential solar installations. For solar, the index finds that:

  • 31% of homeowners expect to see a return on their solar investment within one to three years
  • 29% expect a return within four to six years
  • 67% of homeowners invested in solar for energy and tax savings, with 17% expecting to save enough energy to earn money back from their utility

ServiceMagic attributes this increase to new financing and incentive programs available in certain areas of the country. Homeowners have prioritized making energy improvements this year, as the index also shows substantial increases in heating (+33%), air conditioning (+13%), and window coverings (+16%), with 96% of homeowners noting that energy efficiency is an important consideration in their home improvement projects. Windows and insulation showed declines in the first half of this year, down from substantial increases seen in 2010, which for windows might correlate to the reduction in energy tax credits in 2011.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.

*Hanley Wood, the company that publishes REMODELING, has a business relationship with ServiceMagic.