If you're looking to make some improvements to your home, now could be the right time to do it. The fact that fewer houses are being built means less hassle for you. Depending on where you live, you'll wait less for a permit and get your project done faster. Even though prices for concrete, steel, asphalt and other petroleum-based materials are up, contractors are eating higher costs to win bids and keep working. A few words of advice before you get started: be sure to use a licensed contractor, always get at least three bids and always check references.