Twenty years from now we'll all be doing green construction. —Tom Kelly, president, Neil Kelly Construction
We are facing the most severe shortage of skilled workers in history. The impact will be massive across all industries.
When the economy picks up, there will be turbulence in the employment market, where people will be leaving just for the sake of leaving. A remodeler who can build a good, stable workforce will have a competitive advantage. —Roger Herman, CEO, The Herman Group, and co-author of Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People
There will be licensing. It's just a matter of whether or not remodelers will be involved in developing it. It will rock remodelers' worlds, but like most changes, once it's been in place for a couple of years everybody will take it for granted.
Consolidation would make a reasonably local product get less and less expensive over time, which would force more structural changes in the broad body of contractors that comprises the remodeling industry. Companies that do one or two things really well will take a substantial part of the business. There will always be one-man bands, but the future of the industry is subbing out. It's a way to get fixed prices and do more business with fewer people to train. —Paul Winans, owner, Winans Construction
Everyone is looking for a little luxury in their lives, and the bar is rising on wanting titillation of all our senses at once. We're going to see more emphasis on creating smaller, perfect environments than giant McMansions.
New products will make it very easy for us to own homes without having to do a lot of work — synthetic lawn products, self-cleaning glass, smart homes, smart appliances that mean you'll never have to be driving down the freeway and wondering whether you've turned the coffee pot off or shut the garage door.
Massive migration into the city will continue. A lot of boomers and matures are trying to capture a little of their cool with loft living and being in more diverse, multigenerational environments. —Vicki Abrahamson, executive vice president and co-founder, Iconoculture
The Internet is going to be a place where building professionals increasingly turn for information about materials, products, and business practices. The more information consumers have about [home-related products and trends], the more professionals are going to have to be aware and responsive. — Burton Jablin, executive vice president of programming, Scripps Networks; acting president, Home & Garden Television (HGTV)
It's not just rich people who want architecturally designed homes. People have more understanding of floor space, and mass housing is not functional. There will be more prefabricated houses and a blurring between outside and inside, more flexibility and creative ways of developing spaces like home offices. —Allison Arief, editor-in-chief, Dwell
We're on the verge of a pendulum swing similar to that from the Victorian era to the Craftsman era, when people began to reject the showiness of bigger and bigger homes for smaller homes that are more tailored to how we really live. This will present interesting challenges for remodelers in terms of differentiating big spaces and incorporating the level of detail that makes a house feel comfortable.
The biggest thing is going to be remodeling houses with almost no additions. —Sarah Susanka, architect and author of The Not So Big House series, including the forthcoming Remodeling the Not So Big House
Like the Irish and Italian immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the current waves of immigrants, significantly Hispanics, will move through the ranks and help to solve the remodeling labor shortage. —Hugh Rice, chairman of FMI Corp.
We'll see major anxieties start to arise around indoor air quality related to human health, especially children and infants. People are also going to be connecting energy costs to environmental concerns and will start asking professionals if they've been intelligent in their selection of materials and systems. New ‘cradle-to-cradle' materials are coming; people who are doing [sustainable building] are making more money. All other things being equal, this will differentiate them in the marketplace. —William Mc-Donough, founding principal, William McDonough + Partners, Architecture and Community Design
People don't want to move from their homes. They really want to see the trees they've planted bloom. They want a house that's flexible and allows them to grow — not only an office, but maybe a suite for their parents. They want advanced home entertainment equipment, high-speed computer access, home computer networks, security systems, and smart appliances installed. —Denise Gee, senior editor, Better Homes and Gardens home design department
Lead carpenters will become more like production managers for several projects, visiting each jobsite mainly to communicate with the homeowner about things the field staff cannot due to language barriers.
People are living in bigger houses for longer periods, and with housing prices skyrocketing they'll really want to take care of their homes. This will be wonderful for the handyman business, as will the aging of the baby boomers who don't want to do anything around the house.
Consolidation is going to happen in remodeling. Within two or three years, I think The Home Depot will offer installation on every product it sells, as will Lowe's and others. —Walt Stoeppelwerth, industry consultant and REMODELING columnist
We are facing the most severe shortage of skilled workers in history. The impact will be massive across all industries.
When the economy picks up, there will be turbulence in the employment market, where people will be leaving just for the sake of leaving. A remodeler who can build a good, stable workforce will have a competitive advantage. —Roger Herman, CEO, The Herman Group, and co-author of Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People.
Aging, affluent boomers will continue to drive remodeling growth, including in the area of BIY, where the consumer buys the products, but has the remodeler install them. This will be especially true for doors, countertops, appliances, and other products that are visible to the eye.
The home improvement market will increase an average of 6% a year for the next five years. Much of this will be driven by the aging housing stock, but even people moving into brand new homes will hire professionals to help them with details they postponed. —Richard Johnston, senior research analyst, Home Improvement Research Institute
It's going to get more difficult to fill the lead carpenter role, especially as so many people go into business for themselves as subs. Businesses that want to grow will have to get their lead carpenters to manage two jobs or more, or to manage two jobs but physically work on only one and sub the other one out. —Tim Faller, president, Field Training Services and REMODELING columnist
The spending levels for Generation X look to be — on a per household basis — equal to and even exceeding what the baby boomers did. We haven't gotten far enough into looking at what projects they're undertaking, but we have the sense that they're more likely to live in older suburban locations in older homes that need work. We could see a pretty significant amount of remodeling coming out of this group. —Kermit Baker, director, Remodeling Futures Program, Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University
Creating “assistance-ready housing” is going to be a huge industry, and remodelers are going to be a part of it. Right now, we ship people out of their houses to receive care. This just won't work as boomers age; society won't be able to afford it.
The solution will lie in more efficient ways to manage older people, by recognizing that they have assets in their homes and helping them age in place. I think there's going to also be controlled maintenance — maintenance contracts, like we have with furnaces, to come in every three months and do everyday things like change the light bulbs. —Louis Tenenbaum, independent living strategist
By 2010 there could be a labor shortage of 10 million workers. Successful remodelers will go to great lengths to accommodate workers in this competitive market. They'll offer on-site English-as-a-second-language training, facilitate on behalf of workers who have problems with immigration or family back home — whatever it takes to keep their labor. It's enlightened self-interest. They'll also form joint ventures with Latino or Hispanic partners.
The real action will be rapid growth in the foreign-born population, particularly Hispanics, in places you wouldn't expect — mainly small- and medium-sized communities in the South and Midwest. Immigrant homeowners will trigger enormously different remodeling and construction design principles. Family structures will evolve as Hispanics, in particular, buy homes that accommodate the extended family.
We'll see the “accordion house” — on enough land where they can continue to add on for children and grandparents. —Dr. James H. Johnson, director, Urban Investment Strategies Center, Kenan-Flager Business School, The University of North Carolina
Remodeling in the last 10 years was getting a new kitchen and appliances, finishing the basement, or upgrading the bathroom. Now it will be more geared toward the housing equivalent of toys. —Jeff Thredgold, president, Thredgold Economic Associates
Jobsites will change, with cordless tools getting the power of corded models and application-oriented design for weight, size, and performance.
Tool companies are now looking at themselves as full-service contractor suppliers, including increasing services to their buyers from theft, security, and business management standpoints. I wouldn't be surprised if global tool companies took up some of the slack in the insurance area because insurance is abandoning our industry. —Rick Schwolsky, editor-in-chief, TOOLS OF THE TRADE
People are intrigued by the idea of older houses and like the idea of transforming them. There will be more loft-living in homes, and opening up spaces and adding light by taking down walls. —Donna Warner, editor-in-chief, Metropolitan Home
I am certain that it will ultimately be great design that will make a difference in the bottom line. If I were a remodeler, I'd ask myself how I could translate Sarah Susanka's “not so big house” concept into a marketing platform. I'd show people how they can have a dream house, though it might be smaller and less cookie cutter than what many currently envision as what they want. It could mean a new way of getting to know your prospective customer … talking to them differently about what it is you can help them with. —Robyn Waters, Target's former vice president of trend, design, and product development, author of The Trendmaster's Guide
To keep up with future skills needs, remodelers will need to train, train, train, educate, educate, educate. Folks in the field and office will need to improve their technology skills.
The companies that survive will be the ones that treat others as they desire to be treated. —Jim Strite, owner, Strite Design + Remodel
More collaborative Web-based systems and instant messaging will take e-mail to the next step. They are much better solutions for real-time communication.
My cell phone is my PDA; I can get e-mail on it. It will be an ideal tool for remodelers when the camera is better. I can take a picture of the broken dishwasher door, send it to a supplier who can immediately requisition a new one, and immediately call the customer and let him know it's taken care of. When that's more widespread you'll get better quality projects done more quickly and efficiently. There will be better tracking of what's in the project and better tracking of incidents. The contractor using that and monitoring data will be the winner in his community. That's the guy who's going to survive. —Joe Stoddard, technology consultant to the construction industry, REMODELING columnist