Before you attend a home-improvement show, you’ll want to do your homework.
Q: I’m thinking about remodeling my home this year, and I want to make sure I hire the best people for the job. Is attending a home show worth my time?
A: If you’re serious about pursuing a remodel project, a home show can be a great way to discuss it with professionals. Just make sure you come prepared.
The first home show of the year, the Northwest Remodeling Expo, takes place Jan. 18–20 at the Washington State Convention Center. With 7,000 plus attendees, events of this scale can be quite overwhelming. But there are steps you can take before you go to streamline the process and make it more productive.
Whether this is your first show or your 10th, the following suggestions will help you make the most of your home show experience.
1. If you’re planning a remodel and/or expansion, spend some time outlining your project priorities.
If you are thinking of moving in the near future, a new kitchen could be a big selling point — most remodel projects, especially kitchens and bathrooms, will increase the value of a home. If you are planning on staying for a while, a remodel project can improve you and your family’s lives by making your home cozier, more enjoyable and more welcoming to guests.
Before you go to the show, ask yourself: What are the top three things that this remodel will achieve for you and your family? This will help you quickly present your needs to any remodeler you approach. If you are remodeling your kitchen, for example, priorities might include:
- Updates that will allow you to more easily entertain guests at home.
- More streamlined and aesthetically pleasing presentation, with clean surfaces and more places to stow appliances.
- Better flow or centralization of the home’s hub — this might include adding a study nook, a dedicated wine fridge, or a walk-in pantry for snack-hungry kids.
2. Review the show’s online guide.
Home show websites will often list attending exhibitors. Use this information to identify the type of service you need. It could be an architect, a design/build firm, or a remodeling company. Review the list and look at some of the exhibitors’ websites, Houzz profiles, and past client reviews to get a sense of scope for the projects they’ve already done. This will help you focus your energy on the best fits and avoid wasting time with fruitless searching.
3. Bring a few photos or a walk-through phone video to give them a sense of the project.
Photos and videos are conversation starters and will give exhibitors a sense of what your needs are. A reputable company won’t give you a firm quote or estimate, but you can talk about your specific project and determine whether you should meet with them later and consider soliciting a bid. You can also use this opportunity to ask them how they carry out projects, if they are good with kids or pets, and if they are able to work around family members who may work from home.
One last thing: As you speak with people from design, construction or trade firms, make note of who you enjoyed speaking with, so you know what exhibitors you will be able to work and communicate well with. Most people choose to live on-site in their home during the construction process, so you’ll likely be living and working closely with whoever you hire for the duration of the project. Under these conditions, clear communication and coordination are as important as their fee structure.
The actual interviewing and bidding processes will be more involved, so this kind of prep work will help you get to a manageable list of local pros you’ll be able to work with sooner rather than later. Having a good fit will make the whole project go smoother and faster.
Whatever you end up doing, home shows are a fun way to learn about the ins and outs of remodeling. Enjoy the show, and best of luck on your next remodel project.
Paul Kocharhook is the owner of Pathway Design & Construction in Seattle and is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s nearly 3,000 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.