Improving economy beginning to hit home - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Improving economy beginning to hit home

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The home improvement industry appears to be digging out from the recession.

At the Louisville Build, Renovate and Landscape Expo, it appears homeowners are finally opening their wallets and feeling a bit more comfortable about investing in their homes.

Todd Hancock has been in landscaping since 1996. But during the worst of recession, he says his business was in danger of drying up and withering away.

"It was very rough. I didn't know what I was going to do the next month. I think there was a lot of us in that same boat," said Hancock.

But Hancock reorganized and downsized. And now, after the pruning, business is blooming.

"I've noticed that people are reinvesting," he said. "The housing market is still a little slow. It's picking up, but it's still a little slow. People are reinvesting into their homes."

People like Brad and Teresa Watkins of Georgetown, Indiana. The Watkins' home is 25 years old, and they're looking to save money by making it more energy efficient. But they're doing it carefully.

"Yes, it's still a little risky I think. I don't think I would go out in terms of getting too much more in debt. There's still a lot of unemployment going on," said Brad.

"A thousand here, maybe. $500 here and there. It's going to be slow," added Teresa.

During the worst of the recession, many in the home improvement business struggled to stay above water. Now they say, they're finally starting to breathe.

"I've noticed that, recently anyway, people are a little easier to pull the trigger on things. Whereas before, people were very careful with their money, and they're still careful," said Jon Harbridge of Ecorefinishers.

In some cases, government tax incentives are helping. That's why the Zierer's put in a new heating system.

"The government came up with a good plan within the last couple of years," said Maryanne Zierer. "We put geo-thermal in our house, and that saved quite a lot of money. And now we're looking to see what else is out there."

Out here on the display floor that's enough for cautious optimism.

"People are interested," said Hancock.

Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, which tracks home improvement spending, predicts double-digit growth in 2013.

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