Industry roundup: Houzz study reports positive sentiment among home renovation professionals in 2020

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Photo: HouzzPhoto: Houzz

Houzz Inc. recently released the 2020 Houzz U.S. State of the Industry report.

The company says this report provides an outlook on 2020 and a review of 2019 performance for residential renovation and design businesses based on data reported by more than 3,000 professionals in the Houzz community.

“The findings from this year’s Houzz State of the Industry show continued momentum for the industry in its tenth year of expansion,” says Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist. “While revenue growth slowed notably in 2019 and businesses expect continued growth deceleration into 2020, the positive outlook is prevalent across all industry groups and even improved when it comes to the health of the national economy. A major headwind in 2019 was rising costs of products and materials, linked by many businesses to increased tariff actions levied against popular construction products and materials. Elevated costs of products and labor continue to be the top challenges facing businesses going into 2020.”

The following are the major findings from the 2020 U.S. State of the Industry:

  • Businesses maintain a positive outlook: More than half of residential renovation and design companies on Houzz predict that 2020 will be a good or very good year (65 to 82 percent), reflecting a slight increase from expectations for 2019 a year ago (58 to 80 percent). While businesses across the seven industry groups expect 2020 revenue growth to range from 4.2 to 9.1 percent, five of the seven industry groups have lowered their 2020 growth expectations by 0.5 to 1.3 percentage points compared to their 2019 growth expectations.
  • Improved expectations about the national economy: A positive outlook on the national economy is shared by a greater share of businesses (15 to 23 percent) compared to 2019 (11 to 18 percent), while expectations of an economic decline are significantly less prevalent (24 to 43 percent) than last year (35 to 61 percent). A majority of companies across all industry groups are optimistic that the demand for their services will increase in 2020 (58 to 69 percent) and most expect no change in local economies.
  •  Many expect to hire in 2020, yet fewer hired in 2019: Many companies continue to expect labor availability and costs to worsen in 2020. Still, more than a third of general contracting, design-build and building and renovation specialty companies (35 to 38 percent) and a fifth of architectural and interior design companies (20 percent, each) expect to hire in 2020. Interestingly, a smaller share of companies across all industry groups hired in 2019 compared with the previous year.
  •  Product and material costs are top challenges: Following widespread increases to the costs of doing business in 2019 (55 to 78 percent), product and material costs are cited as the most significant cost driver by six of seven industry groups (compared to five of seven groups in 2018). A large share of companies link the rising costs to a negative impact of tariffs on businesses in 2019 (23 to 34 percent) with architects and design-build companies most likely to cite a negative impact (34 percent, each). Businesses report a wide range of products and materials impacted by tariffs, from metal, steel and wood to cabinets, tile and quartz.
  • Revenue growth notably slowed in 2019: While revenue continued to increase in 2019, six out of seven industry groups experienced a notable deceleration in average revenue growth (3.1 to 6.1 percent) compared with 2018 (5.6 to 8.2 percent). Building and renovation specialty companies are an exception, reporting average revenue growth on par with 2018 (6.1 percent in 2019 versus 6.5 percent in 2018).

ODA completes Denizen residential project in Bushwick

After five years of construction and design, ODA New York says it has completed Denizen Bushwick.

ODA says this 1.2 million square foot residential space features 911 apartments, 20 percent affordable housing units, 15 mega-murals, 100,000 square feet of outdoor space and a full suite of curated amenities. The company says it designed the entire development, interiors, architecture and landscape design.

To date, ODA says Denizen is one of ODA’s largest projects and one of the largest residential projects in New York City. With it, ODA says it envisions a more connected future for this area. ODA says Denizen is welcoming and inclusive of the community around it while providing a sense of ownership and personalization for the people living there. In areas of rising urban density, ODA says it is working to create transparency and belonging through art, public space and community involvement.

Photo: ODAPhoto: ODA

ODA says Denizen’s communal spaces and courtyards are bisected by a 17,850 square foot public park that creates a green promenade between the two sites, equivalent to two city blocks.

ODA says its in-house landscape team designed the park, interior courtyards and two roof gardens. The company says these spaces consist of more than 100,000 square feet of outdoor space with 360° views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn.

Designed to draw residents outside, ODA says rooftop amenities include a dining area with four kitchens, a mini-golf course, a hammock garden surrounded by a meadow, a dog park and a fully staffed garden. The roof’s long leafy paths and secret secluded spaces are home to more than 250 native New York tree species and over 1,200 species of shrubs and perennials.

This year, the Denizen rooftop farm will have garden plots available to residents to grow their own food from a selection of over 100 different seeds. With guidance from the Green Food Solutions staff, ODA says residents will be able seed, transplant and harvest their own food.

“The rooftop farm serves as an edible oasis for urban residents with Pick Your Own days, pickling workshops, and hydroponic happy hours,” says Electra Jarvis, Green Food Solutions.

Inside the development, ODA says amenities include a game room, chef’s kitchen, bowling alley, rock climbing wall, spin studio, yoga studio, pool, a golf simulator and a movie theater.  ODA says Denizen hired a team to maintain the ODA designed amenities, choose expert fitness instructors and craft events such as poker nights, beer tastings, pasta making classes and movie nights.

ODA says the management team also tracks engagement in these events, as well as overall use of the amenities. The company says the first batch of data shows the most used amenities to be the bowling alley, yoga studio and events such as the Winter Fest, a fair where local Bushwick vendors were invited to participate.

“We are proud of what has taken shape at Bushwick,” says Eran Chen, founding principal, ODA. “Not only were we able to transform a dilapidated industrial building and turn it into a magnate for the community, but we’re influencing how people connect, how cities are developed and paving the way for architecture to be part of the solution.”

Smart Rain announces acquisition of Weather Reach and Irrisoft

SmartRain logoSmart Rain has announced the acquisition of Irrisoft and Weather Reach brands from Campbell Scientific Inc. The company says it has purchased all assets, as well as assuming all customer support and services.

“I am impressed with the simplicity and reliability of the Smart Rain system and look forward to the integration of Weather Reach technology to further improve efficient water use and sustain beautiful landscapes,” says Steven Moore, president and founder of Irrisoft.

“We have watched and loved what Irrisoft has done over the years,” says Dan Hymas, president of Smart Rain. “It was naturally a perfect fit to take all they have built and integrate into our software and smart watering system. We believe both Irrisoft and Smart Rain customers will love even more what is yet to come from Smart Rain.”

“This is naturally a great fit for Campbell Scientific as well,” says Larry Shirk, vice president of Campbell Scientific. “We have enjoyed working with Smart Rain and look forward to a long-standing relationship for years to come.”

Fecon hosts Senator Rob Portman

Fecon recently hosted Senator Rob Portman, delegates from the United Way of Warren County and students involved with Fecon’s apprentice program for a roundtable discussion on workforce development.

Fecon says they have a long history with local high schools and technical colleges, providing training and meaningful, well-paying jobs while students are in school and after they graduate.

The company says the apprenticeship program allows students to work alongside experienced tradesmen and learn from mentors. Fecon adds that there are regular opportunities to expand their responsibilities and their pay rate, as well as attend college or trade school, should they choose to do so.

Photo: FeconPhoto: Fecon

“We recognize the importance of recruiting students early and showing them that manufacturing can be a viable and economically rewarding career path,” says Bob Dieckman, Fecon president.  “Our human resources, engineering and manufacturing teams have developed a great apprenticeship program, and we’re pleased to showcase this to Senator Portman and the United Way of Warren County.”

The company says the program provides hands-on job training in real-world situations, feedback and coaching by job mentors, reviews every six months and inclusion in all company-wide activities.

In addition to hands-on job training, Fecon says the first 6-month period includes small-group training sessions on various “soft skills” topics like following work rules, safety practices and procedures in a manufacturing environment, collaboration and teamwork in a fast-paced facility and more. The company says they also meet managers from other departments who lead discussions about how the student’s individual jobs and responsibilities directly impact other departments and the attainment of company goals.

The company says some specific career paths within the manufacturing field that Fecon focuses on are welding, inventory control within parts and service and production. To further facilitate student learning and make the classroom lessons more tangible, Fecon says student interns are partnered with a more experienced employee mentor who guides them through their time at Fecon.

This partnership, the company says, is especially helpful for female welding students who may feel otherwise underrepresented in the largely male-dominated field. The company says pairing female welders-in-training with full-time female welders working inside of Fecon continues to bridge the gender gap while preparing the next generation of female welders.

Fecon says mentorships like this teach interns the ins and out of the craft and the company, creating not just a knowledgeable laborer, but an employee who understands the company culture – all before graduation and starting full-time work.

“I enjoyed my visit with members from the Warren County United Way along with their local partners at Fecon,” says Portman. “We had a productive discussion about how best to ensure Ohioans get the skills training they need to succeed in the jobs available today. Passing the JOBS Act will help ensure we make skills training more accessible and affordable. In addition, the signing of the China trade agreement and passage of USMCA are significant victories for American farmers, workers and manufacturers, and they will create thousands of new jobs here in the United States. I was pleased to be able to visit with Fecon, a great local equipment manufacturer who will benefit directly from these trade wins.”

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