Spring Home Show season is upon us and we’re hearing of record attendance at many shows. Contractors across the country are telling us that they have huge backlogs and are expecting 2013 to be a very active year with more and more homeowners deciding to renovate and improve their existing homes.
If you attend a Home Show this year, we have one big bit of advice – Do not trust your memory! Home shows can be overwhelming and, while it may be easy to think that you will remember exactly which contractor had that “special product” you liked or seemed to offer “knock your socks off” caring service, it can often be very difficult. So, when you’re at the home show, take notes. Ask the contractors you like if they have Facebook pages where you can follow them, and don’t be afraid to ask if they have an e-newsletter service you can sign up for. Many contractors use these as ways to stay in front of their customers and prospects. As soon as you think you can trust your memory, you will find that everything blurs together, making it difficult to remember the products and businesses that you liked.
If you are at the point of trying to choose a contractor to work on your home, we have several things for you to keep in mind:
- Services like Service Magic, QuinStreet, and many others are attempting to do nothing more than connect you with a local contractor who is paying them a lead fee. While this can be a good way to get introduced to contractors, do not mistake these services as consumer advocacy groups who have done extensive research into the contractors they recommend.
- Watch out, too, for companies that are pretending to be local contractors but are really just trying to hook you up with a local contractor who pays them a fee. Have you ever tried to order flowers and found yourself communicating with a florist or worse yet just a phone room that is states away? That happens in the contracting world as well.
- While we like Angie’s List and other services which encourage consumer reviews, keep in mind there again, that even though there is a membership fee, these organizations also make money from the contractors listed on their sites.
- There’s nothing like a referral to help you find a trustworthy contractor. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Talk to other homeowners who have purchased the products you like. If you’re “interviewing” a contractor to do possible work for you, ask them if they have any previous customer references from homeowners who are in similar situations to yours.
- As another idea, there are many home improvement gurus out there who can provide great advice and will often have good contacts for you. Our favorite (and, yes, we are a paid sponsor of his) is Gary Sullivan. Please listen for him on the radio or visit At Home With Gary Sullivan.
- Finally, if you have found a product that you’d like used in your home, contact the manufacturer to make sure it’s appropriate for your home, and also to ask them if they have any contractors they can suggest.
We wish you the best as you plan your 2013 home improvement projects. By following our ideas and tips, we hope that you can have successful experiences that fulfill your dreams.