BuildFax said its remodeling index reached its highest level since it began tracking data in 2004 — indicating homeowners are essentially trapped in their homes. The July 2011 index rose 24% year-over-year to 130.4, the highest number ever. "As millions of Americans believe that they will not be able to secure a new home due to a variety of factors including tight credit, limited buyers and challenging job prospects, they are more and more turning to renovating and remodeling their current properties, sending remodeling activity to record levels," said Joe Emison, vice president of research and development at BuildFax. BuildFax, co-based in Austin, Texas, and Asheville, N.C., said there was an upswing in the sale of building materials and the number of renovations greater than $10,000 in the July index. The comany also said consumers have not increased the insurance on their homes to account for the remodeling, which puts many homes at risk without the proper level of insurance. Monday's report reveals continued month-over-month gains for most regions of the country as consumers invest in remodeling even as fears grow of a double-dip recession and unemployment remains above 9%. In July, the West (3.4 points; 3%) and Midwest (4.9 points; 5%) had month-over-month gains, while the South (3.3 points; 3%) and Northeast (2.7 points; 3.4%) saw a decline. On a positive note, the Northeast was up (0.7%) from July of 2010, as was the West (26.4 points; 26%), South (6.2 points; 7%), and Midwest (5.6 points; 5.6%). The BFRI tracks remodeling activity via building permit activity filed with local building departments across the country. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.