Home improvement activity and remodeling spending are expected to improve, showing increases on an annual basis, by the end of 2010, according to the most recent Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS). The LIRA also projects that growth will accelerate into the double-digit range in the first quarter of 2011.

Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program, suggests that returning homeowner optimism and confidence in an economic recovery is driving growth in home improvement investments—and not just in necessary replacement projects and energy retrofits, but also in remodels and upgrades.

Of course, any significant spending growth hinges upon continued improvements in the U.S. economy, which will feed homeowner confidence. "Absent a reversal of recent economic progress, there should be a healthy upturn in home improvement activity by year-end and into next year," noted Eric S. Belsky, JCHS managing director.