Home improvement contractors have it tough. From understanding the art and science of their profession to navigating the morass of rules that govern modern construction projects, they need to have a keen eye for detail to succeed in their industry. Americans paid pros nearly $130 billion dollars to work on 30 million home improvement projects in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. And for many of those projects a huge stack of rules govern what work can be done when and by whom.
From electrical codes to plumbing inspections to lead removal standards, the many rules that govern home improvement projects explain why contractors in 75 out of 95 cities we looked at have a more negative view of their local government than the overall average in the Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey.
So which cities are doing relatively well by their contractors? We took the responses we received from 3,578 contractors across the country and looked at cities where contractors rated their local government as being more friendly than pros in other categories. We then ranked the cities by the spread between the reported contractor score and the overall score for that city.
The top ten cities for general contractors are:
Greenville, South Carolina
Home improvement pros in Greenville led the country in rating their city government nearly 9 percent higher than other professionals in the area. This is no small feat given that the city earned a B+ overall for its friendliness to small businesses, one of the top grades in the country.
New Haven, Connecticut
Home improvement professionals in New Haven rated the city 8 percent higher than other pros in the area – this doesn’t mean they are happy with the city, however. New Haven earned a F, one of the worst grades overall for small business friendliness in our survey.
Albany, New York
Albany-based contractors rated their city government 8 percent higher than other pros in Albany, who gave the city a D for its overall friendliness to them, citing things like the difficult regulatory environment and trouble in starting a business for the low grade.
Tampa residents spent $1.5 billion on home remodeling in 2013. Pros there rated the city 4 percent higher than the C+ grade other pros gave the region. One handyman said “I just think it’s hard for a small business to start up when the county requires licensing fees while the city requires a business tax license fee.”
Port St. Lucie, Florida
The small metro area of Port St. Lucie, Florida, received a C overall from all pros in the area, but contractors rated the area 3.9 percent better than their counterparts in other industries.
Asheville, North Carolina
A city in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. Contractors rated the city 2.5 percent better than other small businesses in the area.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs was the friendliest city in the country for small business last year, and took a small tumble in the ratings in 2015. Home improvement contractors tell us that the city is still doing well by them, rating the region 2 percent better than other small businesses in the area.
Cincinnati earned an average B- grade overall for its friendliness to small business this year, and home improvement contractors rated the city 2 percent better than their peers.
Dallas was one of the friendliest cities in the country for small businesses overall, and home improvement contractors like it even better than most. Home improvement pros rated the city 1.7 percent better than their counterparts in other industries.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Rounding out our top ten list of cities where contractors are happier than others, New Orleans, Louisiana contractors rated the city 1.2 percent better than small businesses in other industries.
How did your city do? Compare the results on our interactive map below.
Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey – Perceptions of Contractors v. All Other Pros