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Denver has 5.9 week backlog of remodeling projects

DENVER -- Inside a 918-square-foot ranch house in the Sunnyside neighborhood, Jenny and Joey Casanova say two is company, but three is a crowd. 

"We loved our little house," said Jenny Casanova, "This whole project was based on our daughter. We realized how tiny our house became after she was born."

After seeing what they could afford to buy in Denver, though, a addition on the back of their home sounded like a better idea.

"I contacted seven contractors and four of the seven told me our project really wasn't big enough for them," said Jenny.

Turns out, there are an influx of people like Jenny and Joey calling Denver area contractors for remodels large and small.

Many Denverites want more space, but they can't afford to buy something bigger in this hot housing market.

"Crazy busy right now. Probably the busiest I've been in 22 years." said John Henry, owner of Henry Development, who said builders have more home renovations than they can handle, but not enough help. "We might have one electrician on a project instead of two. We might have one plumber on a job instead of a couple. So the projects are taking longer than they really should."

A recent Houzz survey shows a major backlog in the Denver Metro of 5.9 weeks before companies can take new projects.

"We have a shortage of contractors," said Jason Hansen with Bello Custom Homes. "A lot of the contract labor now are preferring new build over remodels. Remodels are a little more complex, and they come with certain challenges, especially in some of Denver's older neighborhoods." 

Hansen said he has a backlog of two to four months before a project can even get started, and Hansen and other contractors said they are also dealing with delays at Denver's city permit office.

"Denver is working on the permitting process," said Hansen. "I have seen quite a bit of improvement, but it is still hard to judge that timeframe for a current client."

More than a year after the Casanovas started the process for their home addition, construction finally started.

Pro-Tip? They said, "be realistic." Everything is more expensive than it was even a year ago, and remodelers say costs aren't going down.

"I think this trend will continue for the next two years," said Henry. "Remodelers I know are booked for about the next year."

For smaller projects, there are new technologies and apps like Takl and Taskrabbie that could help find a handy man or contractor. And to get inspiration and ideas on how to save money, the Casanovas recommend sites like Houzz and Pinterest.

The Casanovas said they are still glad they didn't move. ("No way. Not for a second. No regrets.") They just want to make sure they have plenty of room for three, or hopefully one day... four. "No no no. No announcements. Not yet."

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