Your Place: 'Green' renovations, hiring contractors gaining in popularity

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

An American Express survey has uncovered the fact that more than half of all Americans are planning "green" renovations.

At the same time, Colonial Pipeline Co. of Alpharetta, Ga., says that nearly half of all homeowners fail to call 811 to find out about utility lines before gardening.

And you thought we were a nation of couch potatoes becoming increasingly nearsighted by staring at computer screens all day.

The American Express survey, conducted online with a random sample of 1,882 adults, found that green renovations are becoming more popular among those with home-improvement plans.

The most popular project? Windows and doors, followed by alternative-energy systems including solar energy, biomass stoves, residential fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, heating, ventilation and/or cooling, water heaters, and roofing.

The greenest states: New York and Florida, and then California (though probably the Golden State water shortage has browned it).

Seventy-five percent of homeowners said they plan renovations this year, up slightly from 73 percent in 2014. The total average amount they expect to spend is $4,100, versus $4,000 in 2014.

The most popular projects are redoing a room, followed by minor cosmetic work such as painting and landscaping ó both of which Iím doing this year, coincidentally. Americans plan to spend $3,600 on indoor remodeling and $1,800 on outdoor remodeling, the survey found.

Only 65 percent of homeowners are doing the work themselves, down from 72 percent in 2014. Hiring contractors has gained in popularity ó 21 percent in 2015 vs. 15 percent in 2014.

Colonial Pipeline reports that 45 percent of Americans put themselves and their neighbors at risk by failing to call 811 before beginning their yardwork.

Many are unaware that every six minutes a utility line is struck by a homeowner who didnít call 811 before digging.

The free 811 call should be made a few days before projects that involve digging (installing a fence or mailbox, or building a deck, pond or patio) so the approximate location of underground utilities can be marked.