Photos: Hanley Wood

A recent poll of nearly 3,000 builders, architects, remodelers, and building product distributors found that about 3 in 10 expect a strong economy by the end of next year, and more than half believe the economy will be vastly improved by 2015. "Optimism returns," is the conclusion drawn from this online survey, conducted in mid-August by Hanley Wood (Builder’s parent company) and Readex Research, which found no significant differences in opinion among respondent groups, which included 542 single-family builders, 171 multifamily builders, 170 residential architects, 202 commercial architects, 639 remodelers, and 482 building product dealers and distributors.

Across the board, respondents foresee positive revenue expansion for their companies next year, led by the 43% of multifamily builders and 41% of single-family builders who project their companies’ sales will increase by more than 10%.

Builders in all geographic regions anticipate that the number of housing units their companies will build next year will increase, by 21% among single-family builders and 13% among multifamily builders, on average. Builders in the South and West expressed the highest level of optimism.

Interestingly, multifamily builders were the only respondents among the cohorts polled that didn’t identify remodeling as having the most potential for growth over the next two years. For example, more than two-thirds of residential architects saw residential remodeling as offering the most fertile prospects. And even single-family builders expect more growth to come from remodeling activity than, say, move-up or luxury custom home construction.

Among remodelers themselves, three-fifths of those polled saw the greatest potential coming from rehabbing bathrooms, followed by repair and maintenance, and kitchens.

Consumer demand and mortgage interest rates are likely to have the biggest positive impact on economic growth, say the survey’s respondents, with the national debt and a polarized political climate potentially having the biggest negative impact.

John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.