Looking to put in new tile? Or finally get the granite for your kitchen countertops?
South Florida consumers are finding bargains with tradespeople lowering prices to get business in a weak economy. Those with cash in hand are snagging deeper discounts.
Plus, there are tax credits of up to $500 for South Floridians to install insulation, windows, doors, roofs and heating or cooling units before the end of the year.
“You are getting a lot more bang for your buck,” said Herman Soto, general manager for Panda Kitchens & Baths Expo Center of Pembroke Pines. His company offers, among other deals, 4 percent discounts for customers paying with cash.
The number of building permits tells the story. Fort Lauderdale had granted nearly 250 more building permits – 13,877 as of earlier this month – than the same period last year.
In Boca Raton, the number of building permits issued is up 5 percent over last year. The city permitted 5,766 ptojects in the first 10 months of this year, compared to 5,500 for all of 2010.
Many South Floridians will continue to find remodeling bargains because the region is struggling to recover from the economic downturn, said Abbe Will, a research analyst at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.
Tradespeople will offer “discounted prices because they need to generate income … They need to put food on the table,” Will said.
Many tile installers, for example, are accepting 10 percent to 15 percent less in wages since the height of the housing boom, said Ted Bohne, general manager of Pino Tile & Marble in Pompano Beach.
On top of that, materials are less expensive because demand for construction products is depressed, he said.
Customers are responding to the bargains by taking on larger projects, he said. October was a particularly good month for Bohne. “Our business is up 10 percent — but with fewer clients who have larger renovations,” he said.
Most are paying cash. They have stable high-paying jobs, Bohne said, and they saved their money while other South Floridians were spending during the housing boom, he said. Now they’re paying cash for remodeling bargains, Bohne said.
His company recently was installing tile in a Fort Lauderdale home that was being enlarged by an owner who saved his money and decided to expand rather than buy larger digs, Bohne said.
Soto’s kitchen and bath expo center also is seeing more cash customers. Nearly two thirds of clients pay cash, he said.
Today’s remodelers also are looking for quality – or as tile vendor Bohne says, “good value on better products.”
In Pembroke Pines, Holly Greger found she could get custom darker maple cabinets for her kitchen — as long as they were handmade in China and assembled by Soto’s company
Saving on the cabinets allowed for granite countertops.
Another factor for the next few weeks are federal tax incentives for improvements that save on energy, such as installing insulation, windows, doors, roofs and heating or cooling units before the end of the year.
Tax credits of 10 percent – up to $500 — expire Dec. 31. Information on the tax credits is at http://www.energysavers.gov