Homeowners are once again devoting time and money to home improvement projects, at least according towww.ServiceMagic.com.

Service Magic is a Web site designed to connect homeowners with pre-screened service professionals.

The ServiceMagic.com home remodeling and repair index for the third quarter of 2009 found that there was a 14 percent increase in homeowners hiring home professionals with an emphasis on remodeling projects.

Economic challenges and limited availability of credit lines in the preceding four quarters forced consumers to reevaluate spending, including the method of payment, leading to less financing and more cash-in-hand transactions for discretionary projects, the company said.

Results from Service Magic’s quarterly consumer sentiment survey indicate that of the 67 percent of cash-paying homeowners who took part in a remodel or addition project, 85 percent actually preferred this method of payment over financing (15 percent) or using a credit card (7 percent).

For the first time in 2009, ServiceMagic.com reported an increase in requests for cleaning and maid services, a category that the company said is a telltale sign of tightened home spending at the beginning of the recession. Other projects that are rebounding on the Service Magic site include window coverings, siding, HVAC and deck construction.

“Homeowner optimism has continued to improve and more people are willing to confidently invest in home improvements beyond required repairs and maintenance,” said ServiceMagic.com CEO Craig Smith. “The combination of consumer sentiment and available cash contributed to an uptick in remodeling categories and foreshadows continued growth for the foreseeable future.”

The entire survey from Service Magic can be found atwww.servicemagic/survey.com.