Last year’s hurricane season helped drive spending on home-improvement products in 2004 to an estimated $271.4 billion, a record high, reports the Home Improvement Research Institute. The estimated total for 2004 represents a 13 percent increase over 2003 spending. HIRI had predicted only a 10 percent increase in June 2004, before the hurricane season. HIRI forecasts more modest but consistent growth for home improvement product sales through 2009, with an average annual growth rate of about 4 percent. HIRI’s membership is comprised of more than 70 companies in the home improvement industry and other fields. For more information, visit www.hiri.org or call (813) 627-6750.