The New Jersey Home & Garden Show this weekend in Atlantic City will have more builders and home remodelers exhibiting than at any other time in the event's 14-year history, show manger Megan Walker said.
This is due to a combination of an improving economy and continued rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy, she said. Other home shows have also seen the trend.
"The backdrop economically is very positive. In all our other markets, we've seen a positive response, increased attendance, increased exhibitors," she said.
Among businesses at the annual show will be Millville-based Garage Concepts of New Jersey, which turns garages into multipurpose, workable space areas, said owner Terry Kenny, 59, of Millville.
The past year has been particularly busy along the shore, as homeowners ask for more elevated storage spaces following the effects of Hurricane Sandy, he said.
"A lot of people got a lot of things ruined in their garages, especially down the shore," said Kenny, who owns the business with his wife and son. "People use their garages to store their summer items during the winter and lost a lot of that during the hurricane. They were looking to utilize their garages for safe storage."
The 14th annual New Jersey Home & Garden Show will be held Friday through Sunday at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The home improvement market represented a $293 billion industry in 2013, about a 5 percent increase from the year before, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute. The Tampa, Fla.-based industry group expects that to grow steadily over the next five years, reaching a projected $384 billion in 2018.
Nationally, the industry has been faring better too.
Fitch Ratings projected home improvement spending to have grown 4 percent in 2013 and to increase 5 percent in 2014 with a modestly recovering housing market.
However, high unemployment, tight credit and weak consumer confidence - in conjunction with higher mortgage rates - could potentially slow down a rebound in remodeling spending, Fitch says.
"Spending for big-ticket remodeling projects will continue to lag the overall remodeling improvement," Fitch Director Robert Rulla said in a statement." That said, homeowners are "slowly warming to the idea of undertaking larger discretionary projects and purchases."
Kenny said most of his company's work in the past year has been at the shore from Long Beach Island to Cape May.
He also said more homes being built with open-space designs means storage areas are dwindling, prompting more homeowners to look to their garages.
"The bread and butter is really turning garages into workable space for homeowners," Kenny said. "If they want to transform their garage into a work area, we do that. If they're in a home that doesn't have a whole lot of storage, we create storage space within the garage. And some people who want to turn their garage into a showroom, we also do that," he said.
Kenny has gone to the annual New Jersey Home & Garden Show in Atlantic City for the past four years and attends a couple of smaller shows throughout the year, he said.
This time of year typically kicks off the beginning of the season for his business as homeowners begin thinking about renovations.
The New Jersey Home & Garden Show, which will include about 120 exhibitors, will feature trends in home and landscape design, home security, solar energy, and pools and spas, Walker said.
"I hope people are looking forward to spring, since we've had such a cold winter," Walker said.
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