Chicago Area Remodelers Gear Up For Healthy Spring

Contact: Lynn Walsh
Walsh Communications, LLC

Chicago Area Remodelers Gear Up For Healthy Spring

Optimism Releases Pent-up Demand to Complete Home Projects

Chicago area remodelers are looking forward to spring not only for the warmer weather but the increase in business from homeowners that have spring fever. 

"There has been plenty of pent-up demand and now homeowners are more confident with their position in the housing market," said Ron Cowgill, MCR, CKBR, GCP, UDCP and president of D & R Services Unlimited in Glenview. "Home values are returning, homeowners are comfortable making an investment to improve their home and the projects are getting larger."

According to the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the home remodeling market spending nationally expects double digit gains the first half of this year. (Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA).

This is good news for remodeling contractors like Cowgill who claim that the small projects carried his firm for the past five years and the larger projects have returned. "We are looking ahead to quite a few room additions, kitchens and basements. With the snow melting, we have had calls for ice dam removal, sump pumps, checking and installing battery backups. Area homeowners know they may have issues since they had them last year before spring. "

According to The National Association of the Remodeling Industry's most recent (December 2013) Remodeling Business Pulse which tracks remodeling conditions & outlook with members across the country, 72 percent of the respondents rated current sales were better compared to the same time the previous year.

Mike Pudlik, MCR, GCP, of Legacy Design and Construction, Inc. (St. Charles) is receiving calls for remodeling work in existing spaces. 

"While we do a lot of exterior remodeling such as siding, windows and room additions; our spring projects involve working with the existing interior footprint of a person's home. In fact, we have two family room makeovers we are designing. Both involve replacing and updating the old brick fireplace facade with veneer stone and surrounding cabinetry to give the area a fresh look. We also have several kitchens and bath remodels on the horizon for spring."

Both Cowgill and Pudlik are active members with leadership positions in the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of NARI in Des Plaines. They recommend seeking a referral to a reputable contractor from a trusted professional organization like the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, whose members have to abide by strict industry codes and regularly keep up with continuing education in their profession. Once you have the names of a few good leads, research them carefully. Ask for and contact several homeowner clients to gauge their satisfaction level with the contractor.

Mimi Altman, executive director of NARI Chicago, said that, prior to hiring a contractor, you should also request: 

  • Proof of adequate worker's compensation and general liability insurance coverage for the contractor and anyone else hired.
  • Proper identification which indicates a permanent place of business and business phone number.
  • Reassurance of financial stability--ask the remodeler for bank, trade and supplier references, and contact these parties to inquire about the contractor's financial solvency.
  • A written contract proposal, given to you within a few weeks of your initial meeting, that spells out the scope of the project, the expected start/stop dates, exactly what labor and materials are included and not included, the names of subcontractors who will be used, any special permits required, payment arrangements, and notice of a three-day right to cancel the contract (required, per Illinois law).
  • A warranty, expressed in the written contract, of the contractor's workmanship and the materials used for at least one year from the job completion date. 
  • A realistic price--be suspicious of any figure that appears too low or too high; also, avoid paying a large deposit (a 10% to 20% deposit up front is typical, but may be more if a significant amount of custom-made materials are involved) or paying in cash only.

Based in Des Plaines, the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of NARI ( is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1987 and currently consisting of approximately 280 member companies. NARI of Greater Chicagoland is committed exclusively to the service of the local professional remodeling industry, representing professional remodeling contractors, product manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, trade and consumer publications, utilities and lending institutions. 

Key to NARI Remodeling Designations

For a homeowner, deciding to remodel your home is a big decision. Outside of buying the home, it may be the single biggest investment a homeowner makes. A consumer considering a major home improvement needs to know that the remodeling contractor he or she chooses is a full-time, dedicated remodeling professional. NARI's certification program offers this assurance through its extensive screening and testing process.

Only full-time, professional remodeling contractors are eligible for NARI certification. A homeowner who hires a home improvement contractor with a NARI certification is hiring an individual who has made a strong commitment to not only his or her own professionalism, but that of the remodeling industry and to his or her business. And because remodelers are not eligible for certification until they have been actively involved in the remodeling industry for at least two to five years, a homeowner knows that the NARI certified remodeling professional they hire has had a number of years to develop the experience and skills that can only be gained through extensive hands-on practice.

MCR Master Certified Remodeler - Be primarily engaged in remodeling;   Hold the Certified Remodeler designation for a minimum of ten consecutive years; Hold another NARI Certification (CRPM, CKBR, GCP, CLC or UDCP); Must have been involved with their local NARI Chapter (committee, board member, or officer) and/ or involvement as a leader in their local community (city council member, school board, church officer, etc.); Must submit a letter of recommendation from their chapter executive or chapter president or three letters of recommendation from recent clients.

All of the following Certifications require that the individual adheres to the NARI Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice; has a minimum of two to five years full time experience in the remodeling industry (depending on the certification); completes a comprehensive application that details their background and experience; pursues industry Continuing Education, both before and after attaining the designation; and successfully completes a written examination.

GCP Green Certified Professional - Be employed by or own a firm engaged in conducting green remodeling projects.

CR Certified Remodeler - Be employed by or own a firm that derives at least 90% of its sales volume through remodeling work.

CRA Certified Remodeler Associate -- Be employed by or own a firm that supports the remodeling industry, such as an architect, designer, educator, manufacturer, publisher, supplier, or consultant. 

CRS Certified Remodeler Specialist - Be employed by or own a firm that derives at least 90% of its sales volume through remodeling work.

CKBR Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler - Be employed by or own a firm engaged in remodeling kitchens and bathrooms; have completed 4 kitchens and/or bathroom remodeling projects per year.

CRPM Certified Remodeling Project Manager -- Be employed by or own a firm primarily engaged in Remodeling with a minimum of one (1) year as a project manager.

CLC Certified Lead Carpenter -- Be employed by or own a firm primarily engaged in remodeling, with a minimum of two years as a lead carpenter.

UDCP Universal Design Certified Professional - Be employed by or own a firm engaged in commercial or residential universal design and/or remodeling or a firm that is supporting the universal design and remodeling industry.