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BLOOMINGTON — After spending 34 years in the tech industry, Greg Severns wanted to do something to better serve his community.
Amid a thriving housing market and an uptick in home construction, Severns took a big leap moving out of the corporate world. In April, Greg and wife Tracy Severns opened Floor Coverings International Bloomington-Peoria — and business has been “hectic” ever since.
“There’s certainly been a lot of demand,” said Greg Severns, 51. “I think it was something that was happening anyway, but whenever COVID hit and people were confined to their home so much and so many people were working from home, it’s in their face all day long.
“Those are the types of things (remodeling) that have gotten into people’s minds, and it’s really because they’ve been home so much in the last year.”
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The floor remodeling business, at 1712 E. Hamilton Road, is a local franchise of Floor Coverings International, which has 170 locations across the United States and Canada. It provides services for across Central Illinois.
While houses continue to fly off the market and subdivisions prepare for added home construction, many homeowners are turning to remodeling as a lower-cost option to switch up their environment.
People stuck inside their homes during the coronavirus pandemic are now rethinking their home environment, with many choosing to remodel their space to handle the demand of working from home, according to Jeff Kida, president of the greater Chicago chapter of the National Association of Remodeling Industry.
“People are focused a lot more on their kitchen, where they may have had a desk set up in the bedroom or in the basement, now they’re looking at building a space they can actually function in for a week or two straight,” said Kida. “That means higher electrical demand.”
While remodeling was steadily on the rise prior to the pandemic, Kida said, the types of projects people are considering have changed because of it. Many have become interested in improving their backyards with outdoor kitchens, decks, and home offices to better handle printers, scanners, and other office-type appliances.
Nationwide, lumber prices increased more than 180% since last spring, driving up the price of an average new single-family home by $24,386 since April 2020, according to the National Association of Homes Builders.
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The rising cost of building materials have led more people to consider remodeling rather than pursuing a newly constructed home.
“Material prices are insane,” said Mike Kearns, interior remodeling managing for Nordine Remodeling, at 112 Merle Lane in Normal. “In terms of volume, we’ve always been busy. For the last 10 years, it’s just been an uphill slog. Last year at this point we were at record sales, and this year at this point we’re at record sales.”
But contractors are not only dealing with high prices. Supply chains have been disrupted as factories experienced closures amid the pandemic, said Kida.
“The supply chains, they’re just very uneven right now,” he said, adding that for some factories, “they’re just now coming out of COVID protocols where they had to spread out their workforce physically or stagger them or just reduce their output.”
“Coming out of it (the pandemic) is not just a matter of flipping the switch on.”
For Severns, many of his suppliers are located domestically, and the business has been fortunate to not see a disruption in supply or material prices. Customers are also provided fixed prices — which includes the cost of flooring and labor — which has helped.
“People are less apt to go build a new home, they’re going to be more apt to renovate the home that they’re in,” he said. “Putting in new floorings is something that you can certainly do where you can have a significant impact at a much lower cost.”
Business is steadily growing, and they’re considering expansion.
“We started the business so we can have a positive impact on the community,” said Greg Severns. “It’s a way that we can help our friends and neighbors with something that’s meaningful for them, it’s going to last for them.”
Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.