Boy who fears tornadoes received touchdown on his birthday

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Home renovations are on the uptick.

New data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that the amount of remodeling is at an all-time high. This coupled with ongoing disaster recovery and repair in Kentwood, some residents say, may make it difficult to find contractors.

According to NAHB, their current remodeling market index (RMI), recently reclaimed its all-time high mark of 57. Essentially, this means more contract remodelers are reporting a busy market than contractors who report less work.

In Kentwood, some families like the Hamlets know the buzzing and sawing of remodeling and repair all too well. Jeremiah Hamlet told FOX 17 his family was remodeling their home for several months before they moved in, and then this summer’s tornado hit 13 days later.

The tornado is something Hamlet said his younger son nearly predicted, after he said his son was left in fear from a recent family vacation when he went on a twister ride.

“Every day he’d wake up, ‘Dad! Can I see your phone?' I said why is that?' ‘I want to see the weather,’” said Hamlet. “The tornado hadn’t come yet, but he was out there looking at the sky, and I said, ‘Son, the odds of a tornado running through the neighborhood are like a zillion to one.’ Then sure enough, on his birthday, a tornado rips through our neighborhood.”

Picking up the pieces, contractors were initially difficult to come by, Hamlet said. Now contractors nearly line his block, including  Butch Zannini, owner of Michigan Gutter Systems.

“The industry is really booming right now, both commercially and residentially,” said Zannini. “There really is no surplus of workers, so everybody is struggling to find people.”

With plenty of jobs available now and just after Kentwood’s natural disaster, Zannini said prices didn’t necessarily go up. But as we head into winter, some contractors will raise their prices or schedule new jobs for spring to avoid working through the elements, he said.

“The bidding war actually drives prices down because everybody is scrambling for work,” said Zannini. “Then a lot of times the person who suffers is the homeowner, because then what happens is guys bid too low to get a job, and then ultimately the job can’t be finished.”

As the NAHB said, the amount of remodeling is at an all-time high. Zannini said it’s important to do your research.

“The best thing you can do is never take the high, never take the low, but find somebody that’s kind of in the middle there, and somebody you’ll feel comfortable dealing with and answers all of your questions,” said Zannini.

For now, the Hamlet’s say their neighborhood has come together. As for their son, he’s still looking ahead.

“It’s funny because he’s like, ‘All right, well, is there another tornado coming?’ and I can’t really say anything,” said Hamlet.


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