Micro thaw hits custom homes

August 13, 2009
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The tiniest of warm breezes is beginning to blow through the custom home business, says one of the regionâ??s preeminent builders.

R.J. Klein, whose Carmel firm specializes in homes costing as much as $6 million, says one of three projects that had been put on hold by clients is now going forward in September. The owner felt the economy was beginning to look good enough to warrant moving ahead.

â??Peopleâ??s risk factor has receded somewhat,â?? says Klein, who has owned his construction company for 40 years.

However, two of Kleinâ??s other pending projects are still in the ice box. The owners plan to reevaluate after the first of the year whether to proceed.

Klein, who is 70, says heâ??d never seen owners stop projects until this recession came along. It takes about two years for him to build a house, so recessions come and go, and construction continues.

But he doubts anything resembling the glory days of a few years ago will return for a long time. Make that a very long time.

Too many baby-boomers spent lavishly when they were younger and then lost much of their savings in the recession and market downturn, Klein says. Now theyâ??re scraping together retirement money instead of building dream houses.

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