From the sound of things in some neighborhoods, you might not think the economic downturn has been all that severe in Massachusetts.
Saw blades are buzzing, nail guns are popping, and drills are spinning as contractors descend on home renovation projects in huge numbers. It’s a striking aberration in an economy where many businesses continue to suffer and unemployment remains high.
The activity is also another indication of how unevenly the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been distributed. Some homeowners ― often those whose incomes have not taken a hit ― have reduced costs for commuting, travel, and other expenses, giving them more discretionary income. At the same time, interest rates for home equity loans and mortgages are historically low, making it cheap to borrow money.
Many people have spent an unprecedented number of hours at home, giving them a clear-eyed understanding about what they love — and hate — about their residences.
“The pandemic, especially for people in the middle class and the upper middle class, has created this bubble,” said Chris Parish, a Franklin homeowner searching for a contractor who’s not too busy to take on a small bathroom renovation sometime soon. “We’re all thinking the same thing at the same time, which is, we can’t go anywhere, so we should get the most out of the space.”
Contractors around Boston said they experienced a huge demand for services this summer that has extended into fall — especially for modest projects such as adding a backyard deck or fence. The trend is helping to offset the loss of work builders suffered earlier in the year when larger commercial jobs were put on hold because