The Q1 2015 Houzz Barometer revealed consistent revenue growth across the residential construction industry, which was fueled by improvements in both the number and scale of new projects or orders
The Houzz Barometer polls 5,000 of the firms that host professional pages on the site, including builders, remodelers, interior designers, architects, and landscapers.
Small firms (with fewer than 5 employees) have recovered from the recession, according to the report. In fact, many are now facing capacity limitations. Approximately a third of these firms reported hiring in 2014, with larger proportion of firms in all sectors (and of all sizes) bullish on hiring in 2015.
The 2007-2009 recession adversely affected smaller firms much more so than the larger firms, says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, and growth in this sector has since been sluggish before it recently began picking up steam. "That the recovery has reached the smaller firms is indicative of a next stage in the recovery," she says.
The widespread optimism in the report is tempered by concerns that profit increases are not keeping with revenue growth. The reasons for this are both cyclical and structural, says Sitchinava. "The costs and wage aspects will pass as conditions improve, but there is an overwhelming commentary of a shift towards the budget conscious consumer," she says.
The impact of this structural shift in the nature of the consumer, towards a more "cost-conscious and commitment-phobic post-recession homeowner" has yet to be determined. In short: fees should be rising, but firms feel consumers will not absorb the higher prices.
But those prices concerns shouldn't obscure the fact that conditions are improving. "The optimism is quite rosy for 2015," says Sitchinava, "But it is still tentative with three key challenges: significant shortages of qualified labor, the unknown impact of this shift towards the commitment-phobic consumer, and uncertainty about the U.S. and world political climate. These concerns are real and widely cited."