Building contractor eager to take on any sized projects

A year ago, contractor Ben Collins was crisscrossing Charlotte with a cell phone and a clipboard overseeing home remodeling projects that often topped $1 million.

But on a recent afternoon, he was swinging the hammer himself on a $20,000 bathroom remodeling job in Myers Park.

A year ago, he'd have turned the job down without thinking twice. But in the current economy, Collins is grateful for a $4,000 job overhauling a closet. He's even switched out light fixtures himself. "Anybody who's too proud to get out there and get to work is in big trouble," said Collins, owner of the Salins Group General Contractors.

But the deepest home slump in recent memory is great news for homeowners across the region who need work done and have the money to pay for it.

Some remodelers say they charge from 10 to 30 percent less for most jobs these days because their subcontractors will work for less just to keep their businesses going. And the workmanship may be better too. Even smaller jobs are being done by expert carpenters who have nothing more lucrative to do.

"Everyone's hungry," said Bob Pugh, renovation manager at Simonini Remodeling, the remodeling wing of luxury home builder Simonini Builders.

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