The BuildZoom blog

Introducing the BuildZoom Remodeling Index

Whether we recycle or dump our waste into a landfill, we tend to replace that which is old, with something shiny and new.  Homes are the exception to the rule. Almost half of the homes in the U.S. were built over 40 years ago, and keeping the housing stock up-to-date is a task of epic proportions.1   There are over 130 million homes in the U.S. and the bill for their maintenance and remodeling is on the order of 300 billion dollars a year.2  Yet despite the staggering figure, existing sources of data on the extent of remodeling activity are of [...]

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BuildZoom office burglary — $2500 reward — update!!

Update: After our story was covered on ABC 7 News, we were contacted by a nearby startup that was burglarized on July 6th and July 13th. Comparing footage, it’s clear that the same person broke into both offices. Update 2: It appears that this woman is breaking into SF startups with a Doorking / DKS code entry system. She has obtained a master key and is able to enter any office with this system. Update 3: We believe we have identified the burglar. It’s a local San Francisco woman who has been convicted of similar crimes in the past. An [...]

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National construction activity grows 8% in April 2014

The national construction industry took a step forward in April 2014, growing 7.94% over the past month based on our analysis of building permits issued across 90 US cities and counties.  This figure represented the highest count in 2014 to date, a positive indicator for an industry that had been negatively impacted during the winter months by severe weather conditions in several regions. Month-over-month gains were most evident in the residential construction sector, which grew 8.94% in April 2014; compared to 5.31% growth in the commercial construction sector. On a year-over-year basis, permitting actually declined by -2.91% in April 2014, [...]

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Who is spending money on their homes (and how much are they spending)?

To help illustrate some characteristics of consumers expenditures on home improvements, we took a closer look at the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ tabulations of the 2011 American Homeowner Survey, paying particular attention to expenditures based on household income. First, it should be noted that there are about 75 million owner-occupied units in the US.   Here is the breakdown of these units according to household income: Next, we filtered homeowners who reported improvement projects that involved a professional (as opposed to DIY).  Here is the tabulation of homeowners within each income bracket who reported a project in 2011:   [...]

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How much is spent on remodeling each year?

When it comes to a rough approximation of the “remodeling industry,” the figure I hear most frequently is “around $300 billion annually.” To better understand this figure, we should first note that most estimates are based off some section of primary data gathered by the US Census, so this is a good place to start. The Value of Construction Put in Place Survey (C-30)  The C-30 provides monthly estimates for the total dollar values of construction work done in the US.  Its methodology considers a range of primary data sources.  Of note: New private residential construction estimates come from their Survey of [...]

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Starting with AngularJS at BuildZoom

Last week at BuildZoom, we rolled out the first feature built using the AngularJS JavaScript framework. Up to this point our app, which helps homeowners find remodeling contractors they can trust, had been primarily Ruby on Rails, with javascript written utilizing jQuery and (Twitter) Bootstrap. This was an exciting moment since a major reason for joining BuildZoom a month earlier was to expand my experience with the latest front-end technologies. I had experimented with AngularJS prior to BuildZoom, finding the framework very intuitive. Coding the “angular” way enforces modularization, the lack of which is a common problem with javascript code. [...]

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Vivint Solar: A closer look at an emerging player in the solar industry

In our recent article on the growth in solar installation projects, we were surprised at how quickly Vivint Solar had grown in just a short amount of time.  Our data reveals that in just 18 months, they had become the second most active solar installation contractor in the nation. We decided to take a closer look at the company and see how they stacked up to SolarCity. Who is Vivint Solar?  Vivint is based out of Provo, Utah.  According to VentureBeat, Vivint Solar is part of home automation company, Vivint and launched in 2012.  Since then, it has raised over three-quarters [...]

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Solar industry grows 45% in 2013

This past December, we published an article explaining the overall growth we observed within the solar industry. A quarter removed from 2013, we’ll take a look back at how solar installation performed in 2013. In 2013, we observed that the total number permits issued for solar projects, increased by 45% over the previous year. Nearly all growth within this sector could be attributed to photovoltaic projects; the total number of permits issued for solar thermal projects actually decreased by 15%, from 2012 to 2013. Given the significant difference between the median price of photovoltaic and solar thermal projects (illustrated in [...]

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Atlanta construction on the rise

Earlier this week, we reported that over the past three years, the city of Atlanta was one of the fastest growing local construction markets.  Today, we’re providing more details specific to Atlanta, based on our analysis of public building permit records. Overall, Atlanta construction has been steadily growing since hitting a 10-year low in 2009. In 2013, the number of permits issued in Atlanta increased by 46%, marking its largest annual increase over the past five years.  To put this growth  in perspective, we compared permitting in Atlanta with the national trend. This clearly illustrates the sharpness of the 2009 [...]

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Fastest growing construction markets in the US

In February, we showed how the construction industry has experienced steady growth over the past several years.  To better understand where the market growth was happening, we drilled down to the city/county level to filter out the areas that have been consistently growing over the past three years. Here are the top ten: Several of the cities on the list including Atlanta and Miami Beach, were areas that were hit hardest during the real estate crisis and still have yet to surpass pre-recession activity.  More generally, we  observed that major cities within the Mid Alantic, Southeast and Pacific Northwest regions [...]

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Construction activity declines 6% in February

The total number of building permits issued across the US in February 2014, represented a month-over-month decline of 6% after accounting for seasonal variability. The month-over-month decline was consistent between the commercial and residential sectors of the market. Drilling down, we see that many of the cities experiencing gains in February 2014 were in warmer climates like Cabarrus County, FL; Escambria County, FL; and Charlotte, NC.  Conversely, many of the February decliners were in colder weather climates like Cleveland, OH; Columbus, OH; Howard County, MD and Madison, WI. This pattern could also be observed within the commercial sector. One exception [...]

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What San Francisco can learn from Seattle when it comes to affordable housing

The accessibility of housing in San Francisco has been an issue gaining steam over the past several years. Last December, Mayor Ed Lee announced an executive directive ordering relevant city departments to prioritize the permitting of new housing construction, including permanently affordable housing. In the ensuing coverage, frequent references were made to the situation in Seattle. According to the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti as cited in Gregory Ferenstein’s recent TechCrunch article, “After Seattle significantly increased construction, rent hikes slowed even during a jobs boon that outpaced San Francisco’s.” We took a closer look at the building permit data in Seattle [...]

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Remodeling Guides


Hiring a contractor

Learn how to choose wisely when it comes to the fate of your most valued investment - your home.  Full guide

Meeting your contractor

The most important thing to accomplish during a walkthrough is to determine whether or not you trust the contractor you are about to hire.  Full guide

The Remodeling Contract

Many of the problems that arise during a project, can be avoided at the outset by making sure you have a solid contract in place.  Full guide