The Q1 2017 Houzz Renovation Barometer, released this week, reflected widespread quarter-over-quarter confidence for all industry sectors including architects, designers, general contractors/remodelers, design-build firms, building/renovation specialty firms and outdoor specialty firms, with readings of 66 or higher (66-76 out of 100).

Architects have reversed a three-quarter downward trend in confidence with scores returning to Q1 2016 levels. In contrast, building and outdoor specialty firms’ confidence dipped slightly relative to Q1 2016, especially in the Northeast, likely due to mid-March winter storm activity. Despite this, outlook for Q2 is positive across industry sectors.

While confidence remains high, labor shortages continue to hinder industry growth, as reported by 75 percent of general contractors, remodelers and design-build firms. Shortages remain highest in the Midwest (85 percent), but have eased slightly in the South (73 percent in Q1 2017 versus 81 percent in Q3 2016). Finish carpenters and general laborers remain in shortest supply (41 percent and 36 percent, respectively). To attract young workers, firms are stepping up efforts to spread awareness of job opportunities in the industry. This includes leveraging social media (24 percent), giving talks at local high schools and/or colleges (seven and six percent, respectively), and organizing company-wide recruiting events (six percent). Many are also offering on-the-job training (41 percent).

“While confidence remains high across industry groups, the high expectations for 2017 reported at the start of the year have been put a bit on hold due to weather conditions,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Winter storms in the Northeast and rains in the West prevented many outdoor and exterior project inquiries converting into jobs in Q1, somewhat affecting professional confidence among specialty firms. Yet, expectations for Q2 are strong, and renewed confidence among architects signals larger scale projects on the horizon.”

The full Q1 2017 Houzz Renovation Barometer can be found here.

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