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TOP RENOVATION BUILDERS
 COMPANY2008 RENOVATION REVENUE
1Anthony & Sylvan$12,000,000
2Paddock Pools and Spas$8,850,000
3Shasta Industries$7,000,000
4Aqua Pool & Spa.$4,500,000
5Blue Haven Pools & Spas$3,896,810
6Swan Pools$3,236,908
7Patio Pools & Spas$3,100,000
8Elite Pools$2,742,236
9Robertson Pools$2,273,707
10Van Kirk & Sons Inc.$2,251,760

As new pool construction plummeted in 2008, many builders relied on renovation to keep their companies afloat.

However, that sector was hardly immune to the effects of the recession.

“There’s no doubt that people are taking longer to make decisions now,” says Dave Reinert, general manager for the remodeling division of Phoenix-based Shasta Industries. “They’re getting more comparative estimates than ever [before], and they’re more cautious about spending money.”

Job stability is a big concern among these otherwise interested homeowners, he adds. With the nation’s unemployment rate creeping toward double digits, people are much more wary to make any kind of big purchase.

However, since many small upgrades can be put on a credit card, the availability of credit is not as critical.

But even homeowners who are pulling the trigger on renovations are avoiding elaborate, high-ticket upgrades.

Clients aren’t as interested in adding a giant waterfeature or an intricate outdoor kitchen. Instead, homeowners are focused more on surfaces, either looking to refinish their plaster or modify a deck.

Jim Cich agrees: “We’re getting less of ‘change my pool shape,’ and more [people] spending money on the deck or the tile,” notes the CEO of Paddock Pools and Spas in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In addition to smaller jobs, the renovation sector has a few new faces as well.

“We have more competition now, because more of the new-build guys who shunned remode — they’re trying to do it,” Reinert says.

Yet, waltzing into the renovation business is easier said than done. The work requires more dexterity, staff and overhead support. Most importantly, you have to be prepared for just about everything.