THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS

As the year of 2019 closed and 2020 is upon us, individuals and businesses look back at the year and look at their successes, their failures, and focus on setting goals for the year ahead.  Before the new year begins and all the new design trends come to fruition and businesses and homeowners set their goals for the new year, we want to take a minute and reflect on this past year 2019. Starting with the business side of things with successes in the building industry and in the life of contractors. 

Since 2012, the building industry totals have increased around 14% each year. The main factors that dictate these totals are interest rates, material costs, and bank lending standards. Currently all of these are falling in line with each other producing the “perfect storm” for the building industry so to speak. 

Of course, with any positive economic momentum there are always skeptics. Some analysts are saying that 2019 will be the rise before the fall. They are purporting that the U.S. economy is in for another recession due to new changes and regulations with the Federal Reserve affecting consumers in 2020.

Despite the government shut down, reports from January have surfaced and have exceeded the monthly estimate. So many in the building industry feel that this is a sign of things to come! 

Single Family Housing

A projected future deceleration does not appear to be the case particularly for this category, as the demand for new construction, especially single-family homes has been steadily on the rise over the past decade. 

Banks and other lending institutions are swinging back around to supporting buyers. This means realistic and affordable home loans with modest terms.

In the single-family housing category, a sleeper that may impact this year’s totals is the desire for pre-fabricated housing. Some people find the home building process to be daunting and time consuming and therefore want a quicker option. It can take 8 to 12 months on the short end for an entire home build to subside. Therefore, with people relocating to Colorado daily, the search for turn key living is becoming very popular. With a pre-fab home, you are talking weeks not months to get a home built. 

Multi-Family Housing

There never seems to be enough multi-family housing especially here in Colorado. With hundreds of thousands of people migrating to the state, multi-family housing is popping up in every neighborhood around Denver.

Today, a lot of young adults are opting to rent instead of purchasing. Occupancies are few and far between across the state and multi-family housing fills up as quick as it is built. 

Commercial Building

Despite the fact that commercial building has slowed for smaller independent and private companies, hotels and warehouse stores are on the rise.

The internet has slowed business for smaller companies meaning that they cannot financially support a physical location, putting many of them out of business.

However, large warehouse stores that also have online shopping are able to keep up with the market changes while supporting ins store shoppers.

Furthermore, hotels are also being built one after the other. In Colorado they are being constructed in some odd places like industrial areas.

In addition to this, a couple of wildcard trends that are poking out of the commercial building sector is the demand for libraries, amusement buildings (e.g. Aquariums), and museums. 

No one really knew what 2019 would hold. However, with populations continuing to rise all over the nation, the demand for housing appears to not be at any substantial rise. 

Last but certainly not least is the contracting side of the business. Let’s take a look at this past year and what contractors focused on to improve their businesses.

 If you have a freelance contracting business, you know that it can be very lucrative. Even though you may have built a solid customer base, there are still things that you need to do to keep your business going long term. We’re talking contracting success here people! With the new year right around the corner, it is important to take the time to do a once over on your business and business practices if you are planning for any kind of growth. 

Contracting Success | Functioning Operating Systems

Managing your business is just as important as the work that you do. Analyze the systems that you have in place for bookkeeping, scheduling, and invoicing to ensure that they can keep up with more demand. Although the systems that you have in place now may be effective, they may not be not be able to handle higher volumes. 

Contracting Success | Solid Internal Structure

Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the internal structure of your business before you grow. Here are some important things to look at:

  • Are you financially stable at this time and can you absorb additional costs that come with growth?
  • Do you have a substantial amount of repeat business or are most of your clients relatively new?
  • Do you have a referral program set up?
  •   How would your clients rate the quality of your work, your customer service, and your follow up procedures?

 If you feel that your business is lacking in any of these areas, consider hiring additional employees to focus on these items. These are essential to the longevity of your business as well as its growth. 

Contracting Success | Assess Your Availability

Part of good customer service is your availability to customers if they need to talk to you before, during, or after a project. It is easy to overlook this issue because the nature of your business is hands on and you spend most of your time out in the field. However, this can make or break customers returning or referring you out.

If you do not have someone that answers incoming calls during the day, consider having your office calls sent to your cell phone. Many contractors also have success with automated phone services that run 24/7 to capture any incoming call. 

Contracting Success | Business Associations

There are several industry associations for contractors that are not only great for networking but offer various business resources. 

Contracting Success | Marketing

Since a large part of a contractor’s client base is made up of return customers, they often do not have any marketing in place. This is a simple and sure- fire way to gain new business. In today’s business world, having an online presence and social media interactions with clients is a must. This not only helps you maintain relationships with current clients but let’s new and potential clients get a feel for who you are. Do not limit yourself to just online practices. Introduce yourself to other businesses and business owners in the community and attend local events. This not only gets your name out there, but, puts a face to the name. 

Contracting Success | Make Yourself Stand Out

There is an abundance of contractors, so it is important that you stand out. Capitalize on special skills that you have to create a marketable niche for yourself. Keep in mind that your niche is just an addition to your business services. It is important to offer a wide variety of services in your contracting business.

Here at RMFP, we are all about helping contractors. If you are looking to expand your business in 2019, we would be happy to help you reach your goals. Get in touch to find out more! The next portion of this article we want to touch on the design aspect of the year such as decking design trends, kitchen trends that were popular and just a few trends in the industry that were commonly seen.

 DESIGN

Homeowners are quickly putting together the list of things that they want to do to their homes! Many gained a lot of inspiration from the Home And Garden Show 2019. These projects range from small indoor changes to large outdoor decks and landscape additions.

 Décor and interior design trends are all over the place on the internet and the cover of magazines. If you are looking for some quick ideas, you will be inundated in no time.

On the other hand, landscape design trends are often more difficult to come by. Considering that the exterior of your home is the first thing that people see, you would think this would not be the case. Visitors quickly get a poor impression of your home if it has poor curb appeal.

 The 2019 Home and Garden Show was chock full of ideas for indoors and outdoors. Homeowners were able to browse everything from high end items to budget friendly projects.

 Here are some of the tops picks that you might consider adding to your home:

 Multi-Functional Landscape Pieces

Finding ways to find multiple uses for some of the most ordinary landscape pieces is a new and upcoming trend. What exactly does this mean?

For instance, many yards because of their topographical configuration need retaining walls. Although necessary, they are not always visually appealing. Landscapers are proposing that you add seating on top them, which not only looks great but creates ambiance seating out in the yard. Another multi-purpose idea is building a vertical garden for a privacy wall instead of a typical lattice wall or wood panel. These vertical gardens not only soften the look, but add color and freshness to the area. 

Pretty In Pink

Believe it or not, pink is a trending color this year! This is true for the indoors and the outdoors. Designers are urging you to take a minute and see what this is all about before writing it off.

It appears that all shades of pink will be sprouting up in flower beds, flagstone patios, granite countertops, and home décor (fabrics, paints, and artwork). 

Metal Is Making A Come Back

With the rage of industrial décor, metal is making a comeback. Homeowners are using metal for door and cabinet hardware, shelving, exposed piping and beams, and outside as landscape décor in gardens and flower beds. All types of metal really stand out against organic surroundings.

Beautiful Sustainability

It appears that homeowners are throwing out yard work but not the beauty. Spawning from the days of xeriscape, landscapers are offering landscaping ideas using sustainable low-maintenance plants that actually have color. Far from cactus and other drought resistant plants, these new gardens are full of lush vibrant plants and flowers that require no care. 

The Fifth Wall

Everyone look up! The ceiling of any room is a blank canvas waiting to be used. Everyone is always about the walls when it comes to decorating. In 2019, designers are going to be bringing attention to the ceiling. This includes everything from painting, wallpapering, and adding decorative elements like metal, beams, and other artwork.

These are just a few of the awe-inspiring ideas that came out of the 2019 Home and Garden Show. There are so many more that are worth checking out. This year challenged designers and homeowners alike!

Next up, decking trends! After an explosive year in 2018, the composite decking market is more than thriving. Decks are becoming not just a luxury for homeowners but an investment. A well thought out and designed outdoor living space is not only an extension of your home it actually adds value. In this section, we will break down some of the most popular deck trends of 2019!

A beautiful composite deck is one of the few timeless additions that you can make to your home that you will not have to update. After looking back over 2018 lumber yards and dealer identified some deck trends we saw in 2019. 

Deck Trends For 2019: A Shady Situation

Back in the days of the traditional wood deck, no one ever considered covering it or adding shaded areas. Today this is a whole different ball game. Shade is in! The goal of a true outdoor living space is to use it all year round and despite the weather. Sun-shielding on your deck means that you can be out there all day long, not just in the evening when the sun is setting or the morning when it is rising. The covered areas also provide respite from rain and snow. 

Deck Trends For 2019: Bold Is Better

The color palettes of composite decking has come a long way. Manufacturers have really stepped up to increase color availability and their intensity. Colors that are reminiscent of chocolate, clay, soil, rock and natural habitats have become quite popular.

To accent these colors, deck designers have started “picture framing” (the outlining boards of the deck are a contrasting color) decks with bold colors to really make them stand out.

Deck Trends For 2019: Outrageous Spaces

Homeowners are no longer happy with the standard rectangle or square deck. Some of these non-traditional designs include multi levels, elevated hot tubs, rooftop decks, freestanding decks, built in eating spaces, and elaborate bars. 

Deck Trends For 2019: Water Ways

For a cooling effect during the heat of the day or a relaxing addition to the evening, homeowners are incorporating water features on top of and built into their decks. These include fountains, ponds, even floating platforms. Since composite decking plays well with water, the match was made in heaven! 

Deck Trends For 2019: Lights, Lights, Lights

The added ambiance that lights give to the interior of your home do the exact same thing outdoors! Lighting options just keep coming when it comes to decking. This trend includes lighted railings, stairways, deck sconces, and overhead lighting in pergolas.

2019 was a stellar year for composite decking and landscaping. Contractors, homeowners, and designers are really researching new trends and implementing many of their own ideas to create some of the most amazing outdoor living spaces ever! 

To wrap up this article we are going to end on the kitchen trends of 2019.Your kitchen is practically the centerpiece of your home. It sets the overall mood and design of your house. It is also where most of your entertaining happens and hours are spent. There are always new trends being implemented and evolving as the design industry continues to grow and influencers make their mark. Here at Rocky Mountain Forest Products we compiled a list of the 2019 kitchen trends that have marked their place in the design world. 

The 2019 Kitchen Trends We are Noticing 

Dark on Dark

The all dark countertop and cabinets look is extremely popular this year. Dark countertops have been popular since the early 2000s and have been paired with lighter colored cabinetry, and now the new trend is everything dark. The floors, cabinets, appliances, and flooring are all seeing a darker trend. This gives any kitchen a very industrial city look, while being modern and chic. The most commonly seen combination is dark black countertops with a lighter grey or blue-toned cabinet. This color combo has been proven to pair well together. 

Storage

Now storage is a staple in every kitchen, but how you do it is what makes it trendy. People are ditching the traditional pantry look and going for a full wall industrial storage solution. Ikea has brought on this trend with their kitchen designs. Most of their layouts don’t involve a pantry, but instead floor to ceiling cabinets to act as storage space. The other storage solution design is reclaimed timber shelving for dishes, cups, and even certain food items. The out in the open look is very popular as of the last couple of years. 

Appliances

Your appliances are one of the few things people notice as soon as they walk into your kitchen. The traditional stainless-steel ones are still popular, and they still look perfect in any kitchen. The new idea within the trends this year is drama and statement pieces. Whether its fashion, your car, your home, or your kitchen- making a statement is key. Due to this trend, more and more homeowners and designers are looking for appliances that make a statement and stand out from the others. The two big ones are microwaves and fridges. Nowadays some fridges have a touch screen computer built-in and ones you can control from your phone. The same with microwaves and even ovens can be controlled by an app and look very technologically savvy. Of course, other appliances such as your sink and stove top cover are expected to be gold and silver metal, have a hammered look, reclaimed accents, and be huge with pot hooks. The thing to remember is “make a statement”. 

Linear Lights

Usually, when you walk into a kitchen, there will be can lights overhead with pendant lighting over the island or bar. Well, the new trend in lighting is linear light fixtures. We feel as though using these light fixtures makes your kitchen and counter space look longer and bigger. They also add a modern aesthetic, while still being functional. 

Handle Cutouts

A popular look for a kitchen is simplistic and modern. An easy way to achieve a simple and clean look is by cutting out the handles on your cabinet drawers to give your kitchen a seamless look. Most people would just say leave the handles off completely and make a ridge that is prominent enough to grab and pull open. Although this look while still being seamless, provides more functionality to your kitchen. 

Everything Stone

Granite, marble, and quartz are very popular among designers and architects right now. The traditional marble look is very sought out for and loved by just about everyone because of its classy look. Stone doesn’t just have to be for the countertops. You can use stone as the backsplash, down the side of your cabinets otherwise known as waterfall counters, and even as shelving in place of wood. Since stone is so durable and sustainable, the options are endless.

These are just a few of the 2019 Kitchen Trends that have been implemented this year by designers and home influencers. Some will stick and some will fade in popularity. As far as the year of 2020 goes, we can predict new design trends as long as the continuation of existing trends carrying over into the new year. Aside from decking, kitchen, home design, and the success of contracting businesses, there are several significant happenings that occurred throughout this past year – too many to cover for sure!  We look forward to the new year and all the new possibilities that are in store. If you are ever looking for inspiration or for information on current/new design trends check out our blog page, we add new content weekly!