Handyman: Prepare for projects now

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Let’s start the year with good news! More people have money to spend on their homes thanks to a better housing market and improved job picture in Michigan.

For example, an estimated 60,000 autoworkers will receive pay and signing bonuses of between $3,000 and $10,000. That will add an estimated $400 million into the workers’ pockets.

Extra cash on hand can also come from increased home equity, which has improved greatly with the upswing in the state’s home prices.This uptick in home remodeling has really tested the laws of supply and demand.

While the supply available from product manufacturers has improved as they adjust to keep up with this increased demand, the availability of quality contractors in our area has not. That means if you can’t do the project yourself, you will have to wait longer to get it done by someone else. So if you have a project in mind, you better start the planning process now to get it accomplished in 2016.

Kristin Andrews, corporate showroom manager for Infusion Kitchen and Bath Showrooms, (248) 624-5000,, said she is not only seeing an increase in people wanting to do home improvement projects, but they are doing larger projects with better quality products.

“We are now seeing customers looking at custom products for their remodeling projects,” Andrews said. “That is also happening in the new home market, too.”

Some of the more expensive items they are buying include things like higher-end toilets or a steam shower system for a bath remodeling project that can run around $3,000.

While most products customers want to order are readily available, there may be a backlog, so she advises ordering at least 12 weeks in advance to ensure they have them on hand when the installation is scheduled to begin.

Larry Oehmke, store manager for John’s Lumber, (586) 791-1200,, said in years past people seemed to be shopping for more basic, less expensive products. But today, they’re spending more money.

“Now we are seeing customers who are looking at higher-quality products rather than the budget items that were popular in the past few years,” he said.

Both he and Andrews agree that the time frames to get a project done are still affected by the availability of quality contractors.

“We have a list of preferred contractors we recommend for a project, but the good ones are very busy, so customers will have to wait longer to get some of the more complex projects done,” he said.

Andrews said that while she has three quality contractors she recommends to customers, they got so busy this past year that they had to suspend new projects for a while.

“There is still a backlog on installation because there are so few quality contractors left in the market, and the ones we recommend are very busy,” she said.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.