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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Mike Lewis, right, and Jim Lewis of DuHadway pose in their showroom.

More local projects getting the go-ahead

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Taylor entry doors of insulated steel are on display in the DuHadway showroom.

The residential wish list is getting more attention in northeast Indiana, two local remodelers say.

James Millikan, owner of St. James Construction in Churubusco, said he’s getting fewer calls from people just “fishing” for price quotes. More people are willing to take the plunge and invest in home improvement projects – even work that isn’t a necessity.

“I’m kind of seeing people spend a little bit more on some of the smaller indulgences,” Millikan said.

He met recently with one couple interested in a bathroom upgrade and, to his surprise, they were willing to spend $17,000 on a project that included a custom tile shower stall with heated floors.

“They didn’t flinch a bit,” Millikan said.

While he acknowledges some consumers are still apprehensive about the economy’s strength, others are more confident, particularly older homeowners.

Many of them are “willing to stay where they’re at and don’t mind putting an exorbitant amount in a project and getting what they want,” Millikan said.

That mirrors some signs nationally that homeowners are investing more and at least one projection that remodeling in the first quarter of 2013 will be up more than 12 percent compared with the same first three months of this year.

Mike Lewis, president of DuHadway, also thinks homeowners are loosening up.

Basement projects, ranging from installing windows and creating additional bedroom space to adding bar and TV areas, are popular requests. Kitchen and bathroom remodels – particularly going into the holiday season as home entertaining increases – also draw interest.

Lewis said his company, which does “almost everything but building a brand new house,” can customize projects based on “the family’s wants and pocketbooks.”

“There’s a difference between a want and a need,” Lewis said. But “people have expanded out into areas they want to have.”