Will spring bring recessionary house work? Seitz-Agin doesn't even know

On a gray, cold day at Seitz-Agin Hardware Store, it’s still too early to tell how business will be for the spring home-improvement season. It’s not the weather that’s the cause of the uncertainty; it's the economy.

“We’re still in unchartered waters,” says Bill Sheck, manager of Seitz-Agin on Lee Road.

Seitz-Agin (www.seitz-agin.com) has been through many recessions and, according to Sheck, homeowners often use an economic downturn as an opportunity to work on their homes. “Hopefully, since people are likely stuck in their homes for the next three to four years, they’ll fix up their houses themselves,” he says. “We’re here to offer advice.”

One suggestion: use caution when hiring contractors. “We get a mix of individuals and contractors here at the store,” Sheck says. “Sometimes, though, during a recession, you have people who have lost their jobs and decide to become contractors. People need to be careful, and check credentials and references” before they hire someone for work on their home.

Sheck says that based on past recessions, he and others at the store would expect to see a rise in more economical home-improvement projects, such as painting and lawn-and-garden. “You see a resurgence in people doing their own lawn care. I expect lawn care service companies to take a hit, since that’s an easy item to cut from your budget.”

For homeowners looking to prioritize their projects, Sheck suggests that people who are able to remodel their kitchen, do so, “to move their houses to the head of the class” when the recession ends and the housing market improves.

Still, he acknowledges that the counter of an institution like Seitz-Agin doesn't offer any more insight about what's to come than any other economic indicator. “In the past, these things have lasted 18 months. But with this recession, who knows.”

Jason Jaffery is a resident of the East Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 2:20 PM, 02.16.2009