January 20, 2015

New year = home show season. Yes, for some reason, show organizers like to get us out of our homes and into their home shows during the coldest time of the year. If you’re ready to begin planning your home remodeling project, these home shows can be a valuable resource. So how can you make the most of your trip to the show? Here’s our advice.

Material Supplier or Service Provider? – When searching for a remodeler, you need to know whether an exhibitor is selling products or services. We’re all attracted to the stuff we can see and feel like cabinets or countertops. When visiting an exhibitor, make sure you find out if they are selling remodeling (a service) or materials. Materials are an important part of any remodel, but they aren’t the first step in the remodeling process. Choose your remodeler, then your materials.

What’s the Display Say? – Some exhibitors want to be everything to everyone, but you can discern a company’s area of emphasis by looking at its display.  For example, are there lots of pictures of home exteriors (siding, roofing, windows) but the company lists “remodeling” on its banner? This might be a great exterior company, but not the best choice for a kitchen remodel. What about a company named Joe’s Plumbing that lists bath remodeling as a service they provide? They may be terrific at plumbing, but might not be your best choice for a well-planned, comprehensive master bath remodel. Make sure the exhibitor specializes in the entire service you want provided, not just a portion.

Ideas Are Everywhere – Many attend home shows with the intention of “getting ideas.” Certainly be open to ideas, but keep in mind that due to space constraints most suppliers and remodelers won’t be setting up extensive materials displays or vignettes at the show. With the proliferation of home improvement television and social media and sites like Houzz, it’s easy to get ideas from the comfort of your couch. Check out the social media sites of the companies at the show to see what kind of work they are doing.

Prepare to Compare – What you can’t get from social media or a web site is a real face-to-face with people. Home shows are a little like speed dating. You’ll have the chance to “interview” all of the area’s top remodelers to take time to have a conversation with them. Some will do your type of project, some won’t; some you’ll click with, some you won’t. Home shows are an excellent place for you to develop a short list of remodelers with whom you’d like to work.

Know Your Bottom Line – No remodeler will be able to tell you exactly what your remodel will cost, but they can give you an idea of what your type of project typically costs. They can also give you an idea of what can be done with your budget, so have an idea of what you’re willing to spend prior to attending the show and be willing to share it. Remodelers can give you more specific advice when you share your budget.

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