Exterior contractors, those who specialize in decks, gutters, outdoor-living spaces, roofing, siding, windows and just about any other improvement or addition one can think of that goes on the outside of a house, are a significant component of the remodeling industry. Exterior Contractor’s Exterior 200 recognizes these remodelers and their accomplishments.
The 2010 exterior contractors list is culled, as in past years, from Qualified Remodeler’s Top 500 list of remodelers. (See the Top 500 in the August issue, page 31.) It is noteworthy that some of the largest remodelers on the Exterior 200 list also appear prominently in the Top 500. Exterior remodeling is no small enterprise. A surprising number of contractors operate multiple offices and have showrooms and warehouses.
Their marketing in many cases has become more sophisticated, offering custom products through partnerships with manufacturers and design firms. For example, N. Wilkesboro, N.C.-based Window World, which ranked No. 1 on this year’s list, recently partnered with kathy ireland Worldwide, a Los Angeles-based design and marketing firm. Under the new brand, kathy ireland Home by Window World, customers at any of Window World’s more than 200 locations can customize their replacement windows with a line of Kathy Ireland-designed window colors and grids.
The Exterior 200 list is organized with firms ranked by remodeling dollar volume. They were chosen by the percentage of work reported in the categories of decks, doors, outdoor living, roofing, siding, sunrooms, windows and other. All do at least 50 percent of their cumulative business in exterior projects. Some, of course, specialize almost exclusively in home-improvement products, such as windows or gutters.
Overall, exterior contractors have done well despite the economic climate that has stymied many other remodelers. This partly is because the products they install are practical, functional and nondiscretionary. If a homeowner’s roof leaks, he’ll likely fix it before he installs a new kitchen. Replacing inefficient windows, too, is popular because doing so offers a potential payback in energy savings.
Outdoor-living spaces—more of a discretionary purchase—are popular with homeowners who defer expensive vacations or choose to stay in their homes rather than move. Exterior projects, as well, carry a lower price tag than major renovations, yet many owners believe they can improve curb appeal and the perceived value of a home.
All in all, as this year’s Exterior 200 list illustrates, professionally installed home remodeling is alive and well in 2010.