Home remodeling activity increased 22% in May from one year ago, marking the 19th-straight month of gains and rising to the highest level since BuildFax began tracking the data in 2004. BuildFax combs through monthly building permit activity filed with local departments across the country. The company said continued growth in these filings demonstrates homeowners are still investing in their property even as home values and prices continue to plunge. "Through the first five months of 2011 we have seen impressive gains within the remodeling index and May has continued that trend with a record setting month," said Joe Emison, vice president of research and development at BuildFax. "Even with the continued struggles in the economy, the remodeling industry has been a bright spot, as consumers look to make upgrades to their current homes, rather than purchasing a new residence. The National Association of Home Builders reported an increase in builder confidence in July, following three-straight months of decline. NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen said the outlook may not be as bleak as previously feared. Emison, too, expects activity to continue climbing, based on the trend over the first five months of the year. In May, remodeling activity jumped 18% in the Midwest, followed by a 12% gain in the Northeast, 7% increase in the West and the South from the month before. In the West, activity increased 21% from one year ago. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.