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gma2rjc 12-11-2008 03:12 PM

Home building/repair industry
Here in mid-Michigan I've been told that things are very slow for builders, handymen, electricians, plumbers, etc. My son-in-law works at one of the big box stores and said the number of customers has dropped considerably. He said the day before Thanksgiving is usually very busy with customers hoping to use the 4-day weekend to complete projects. But this year they were very slow. Is this the way it is all over the country?

AtlanticWBConst. 12-11-2008 03:31 PM

There are many, many in the Building industry, in Remodeling, and in the Trades, that are very slow.

But, it is not entirely the same for everyone.

My electrician has been straight out, and is hiring.
My Plumber has been steady with work. We are steady with work (fingers are always crossed).
A number of fellow GC's I know are steady with work. FWIW: We just finished an addition, we are working on two four family homes. One is a burn-out, the other is a new purchase for an investor and we are remodeling it. We have regular repairs and do alot of insurance repair/flooding repair work. I am working on 3 home addition estimates (proposals) today.
We actually plan on expanding after the 1st of the year.

On the other hand:
Builders have been slow for the past year + .
I can't speak for Handymen.
It's a fact that the Big Box Stores are slow. I picked up a few bargains today on outdoor work clothing, for some of our workers, and alot of other neat deals...tho, I think I heard crickets in there....

Nestor_Kelebay 12-11-2008 06:26 PM


Business in the home centers isn't a good indicator of the health of the home building and renovating business. It's more an indicator of the health of the general economy.

I'm neither a contractor nor a homeowner; I'm a self employed tradesman, kinda. And, I find that I buy MOST of my materials from the wholesalers in my area because they carry the particular items I want. I only buy from Home Depot when I can get a cheaper price on something that I'm not very particular about, like CF light bulbs or copper fittings or drywall screws, OR if Home Depot just happens to sell what I want cheaper than the wholesaler (which happens often). Home Depot won't carry the particular kind of ball valves or globe valves I like, I can't get the kind of shower heads or diverter spouts I like from them, nor do they carry the kind of rechargeable batteries or lighting heads I need for my emergency light stations.

Homeowners won't have enough experience to know what particular kind of mop head or floor finish they like best, so they'll buy whatever HomeDepot or Wal-Mart carries. When you specialize in a trade, you start to like particular products more than others and you stay with those products. If Home Depot doesn't carry them, then you buy them from whomever does.

So, Home Depot not being busy suggests to me that lots of homeowners are scared of losing their jobs and the houses they're still paying a mortgage on more than it does that the building trades aren't busy. I'm sure that if you check the Painting forum you'll find that none of the professional painters in there buy their paint at Home Depot unless the customer insists on Behr or Ralph Lauren paint.

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