Pam Krison believes people consider home projects during the winter months.
“This is definitely a time when people are looking for both new construction and remodeling projects,” said Krison, executive officer of the Latham-based Capital Region Builders & Remodelers Association. “The consumer typically enjoys the process of finding what they want in their home. It takes several months for them to put the components together. If they’re just remodeling a bath even, they’re going to be looking at all different tiles, they’re going to be looking at a myriad of fixtures.
“In order to get going in the springtime, they’re looking now. Nothing else to do, right? Those who don’t ski, what else is there to do?”
Those considering new bathroom sinks and kitchen cabinets may also be considering the Great Northeast Home Show next weekend at the Times Union Center in Albany. Nearly 400 exhibits and seminars will be part of the show, which begins Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday. Building contractors, window experts and heating and cooling specialists will be among the builders and remodelers represented.
They are Krison’s kind of people. She has ideas what workers and home owners will be doing during the spring, when warmer weather arrives.
Q: What are the most popular projects for home owners?
A: Always the kitchen and the bath. They’re the rooms that are used the most, certainly the kitchen. You get the highest return on your investment when you’re redoing your kitchen, if you sell your house. Even if you stay in it, you’re getting the highest return. If you’re staying in your house, you get the return of a more high-functioning kitchen. Typically, you’re going to have appliances that operate with more energy efficiency, assuming somebody hasn’t done a remodeling in 10 or 15 years or longer. If somebody walks in and the kitchen is dated, typically they don’t want to take the time . . . to go through that process. The fact that somebody else has already done that makes it a higher value.
Q: What are people adding to their kitchens when they remodel?
A: The kitchen continues to be islands. Islands have been around for a long time, but now they’re mega-islands because so much entertaining and family time is spent in the kitchen than it is in a family room.
Q: What are mega-islands?
A: Your cooking, your prepping, your seating areas, your eating areas. They’re just much larger because they’re used for more than preparing your food. They’ve been around for a while, but they just continue to expand their utilization and their size. People sit around the islands. The island will have height, so you put seating around it, as well, so you sit around the island, eat around the island just as well as you cook, prepare and entertain.
Q: Are there any other trends in the kitchen?
A: The lighting is changing a little bit more. Lighting in ceilings is somewhat outdated now, the recessed lights. There are pendants, having the pendant coming down over the cooking area and mega-islands. They come in a variety of shapes. They can be something almost like a blown-glass look, with numerous color options, to a very utilitarian look.
Q: What are remodeling trends in the bathroom like?
A: They are making them more compact, using more natural light, less fussy, less clutter. The bathrooms even five to 10 years ago, there was actually a lot of floor space. Now there’s less floor space with the same type of fixtures.
Q: How about decks for the backyard?
A: I’d even move away from the trend of decks to really having outside living areas. You can have a secondary cooking area — the grill looks a little bit different. When I’m talking about exterior cooking, they’re usually built into something. There’s a myriad of ways they can do that, with stone, obviously, to exterior-type fireplaces. The grill becomes not the one on wheels; it becomes installed right into brick. There are cabinets, and it becomes an outside cooking area. I’ve seen them with exterior televisions to really make it an outdoor living area. There are seating areas. It’s like a room outside.”
Q: Are people doing anything different in their living rooms?
A: I think the living room as it was 20 years ago is really a thing of the past in new construction. People weren’t using them; they were just furnishing them and not using them. Now, they certainly have an office, people have many home offices, also for their daily computer needs. Some of them have what used to be a keeping room or a sitting room, so it’s a little more cozy, the type of room where you go to read the paper, get away from the big open space of the typical house now.
Q: How about new, wide-screen television sets. How have they figured in the evolution of the living room?
A: Certainly, with the ability to put them right on the wall, I think it helps with the orientation of furniture, too. It [the television] doesn’t become the focal point.
Q: What should people do when they’re looking for a good, trustworthy contractor?
A: They sound like basic tips, but many people skip these steps. Make sure the builder or remodeler has a permanent business location [and a] good reputation with their local bank. They should be in business for three to five years — it usually takes that long to become financially sound. They can check with suppliers. For example, if they buy their building supplies from Curtis Lumber and they call Curtis Lumber and they say, “I’m thinking about working with XYZ Company, they tell me they buy from you, can you share anything about that particular builder?” “Oh yeah, he’s been in business for 18 years.” You’ve got an answer, an outside source.
You really need to make sure they have workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. See a copy of the policy; you can’t take their word. The ones who are trying to mislead also know how to mislead. Not only does it show that somebody is a professional by taking care of their workers’ compensation, but it reduces their liability for the homeowner, especially if you’re doing remodeling. And if it’s in your home and a painter comes in and the painter falls and there’s no workers’ compensation or general liability insurance on that, it goes to the homeowner. They’d be liable.
And obviously, you have to ask for previous customers, and the question you want to ask the customers is what, if any, problems were there? And would you recommend this builder or remodeler? The last thing I’d point out, they really need to communicate with the builder or remodeler. If you’re not getting that chemistry feeling, even though they’re a reputable company, oftentimes it’s misperception, misunderstanding and lack of expectations or unclear expectations between the two parties, this is when something can go awry, even with a quality person. You need to really have your communication, and not everybody has the chemistry.
Q: What will people be able to learn at the home show?
A: They can do a lot of comparisons on the products. You get to actually see it, feel it, touch it, ask questions, get answers. They’re really changing it up this year to have more of design-type, living trend, that type of thing. Sounds pretty exciting.