While housing starts in the US tailed off in June (down 50,000 from May), building permits - reflecting construction and renovation projects of many kinds - are still headed up. Nearly 152,000 permits were issued in the second quarter of 2000, up from about 105,000 in the first quarter. The region with the most permits issued was the South, with 65,128 building permits issued in June alone.
But owing partly to a dearth of contractors, 72 percent of Americans planned to remodel/renovate themselves, up from 67 percent last year, notes a recent American Express Retail Index survey. They will spend an average of $2,888 on home improvements, up 5 percent from 1999. Top projects include cosmetic work, like painting (43 percent) and renovation/remodeling (35 percent).
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