Have you noticed all of the construction sites appearing around the Bay Area these days? The pent-up demand from the recession has resulted in a building boom that is projected to continue through 2014. These are some of the other key trends that will be impacting the market in the coming year:
Prices Are Going UP↑
As the demand for remodeling and new construction increases, so does the cost of labor and materials. The recession drove prices down in most major categories, especially labor. The resurgence in demand is reversing that trend and is driving construction costs up by 10-20 percent in the coming year. If you are considering a home improvement project, you will be better off financially to do it sooner versus later. The project that you postpone definitely will cost you more a year from now.
As most of you know, we are heading into a serious drought, so water conservation is going to be a hot topic in the Bay Area. A new California Green Building Code went into effect on January 1, 2014, which sets a new standard of compliance for residential water conservation. The prior code required that you update the plumbing fixtures in any room that was being remodeled. Now you have to update all non-compliant fixtures throughout the house when making permit-related improvements. Noncompliant plumbing fixtures include:
- toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush
- showerheads with a flow of more than 2.5 gallons per minute
- faucets that emit more than 2.2 gallons per minute.
The implementation of this new code will undoubtedly vary from city to city. I recommend that you leave an allowance for these plumbing updates in your remodeling budget until you find out otherwise.
Smart Home Systems
The integration of home systems and our hand-held devices is another trend that is really gaining momentum. This is not just for tech-savvy, early adopters, but is for anyone who is interested in using technology to help simplify their lives.
At the least-expensive end of the spectrum is the U-socket wall plug that has two built-in USB ports to power devices like iPhones, iPads, gaming devices, digital cameras and Kindles. The U-Socket also has a smart sensor that allows it to shut off when the device is fully charged.
There is a broad range of smart home systems that provide you with remote access from the touch screen of your phone or tablet and range in cost from about $5,000 to over $100,000, depending on the complexity of the system. The most common features available today include:
- programmable lighting systems that allow you control the lighting throughout your house from your hand-held device
- computerized thermostats that let you adjust the temperature setting remotely when you are leaving or heading home
- security systems that call your smartphone if there’s an intruder and allow you to view the images from your security cameras remotely.
Jim Tibbs is the creative director of HDR Remodeling. If you would like to learn more, please read his blog at http://hdrremodeling.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @HDRremodeling1.