Some custom builders say they are holding their own in their markets, but Alex Hannigan, president of Hannigan Homes in Orlando, Fla., says the severe housing downturn in Florida has taken a toll on his business. Hannigan says he built about eight homes per year during the peak years of 2005 and 2006, but only worked on three homes in 2007. In the current year, Hannigan has three finished spec homes he hopes to sell and expects to start another three later on this year. Hannigan’s biggest worry? Keeping the company going so he doesn’t have to lay off any of his people. Besides himself and his wife Jan, Hannigan employs a project super and an office production manager. His survival solution during the downturn is to take on more custom remodeling jobs. He says remodeling has become a significant market for his company in the last five months. The way he generated interest was by sending letters to all the people he built homes for previously, putting them on notice that Hannigan Homes is now in the remodeling business. “Builders have to be flexible in this market,” he says. “We’re in survival mode.”—Steve Zurier

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.