Homeowners will spend nearly $233 billion on home remodeling this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders, marking a 1.9 percent increase in spending over a record $228 billion set last year. However, the group also noted that remodeling activity fell in the first quarter of 2007, showing a dip of 46.1 from 48.2 on the NAHB Remodeling Market Index.

The RMI measures the remodeling industry’s perception of market demand for current and future residential remodeling projects. A score of 50 is considered the dividing line between a growing and contracting market, according to the group.

NAHB remodelers chairman Mike Nagel noted that despite the slowdown, remodeling activity remained “fairly steady.”

“A significant part of the remodeling market comes from work that homeowners cannot delay – like replacing a roof – keeping the industry relatively stable during housing market downswings,” he noted.

Regionally, the Midwest showed comparatively strong index readings in the first quarter, jumping to 47.5 from 44.4 with future expectations rising to 44.7 from 35.7. Other areas of the country reported declining RMI readings and decreased future expectation indexes. Conditions in the Northeast fell from 45.7 to 43.4 and future expectations dropped from 50.1 to 44.3. In the South, current conditions fell from 52.8 to 45.9 and future expectations inched down from 51.1 to 50.7. In the West, conditions dropped from 52.4 to 48.2 and future expectations fell from 51.3 to 45.0.