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Defining product and materials decision makers

Product selection for remodeling projects remains a complex task with countless factors influencing the final decision.

August 22, 2013

When it comes time to remodel a home, the homeowner often asks the age-old question of who is ultimately responsible for specifying and purchasing products that will be used in the remodeling project. The majority of the time, the product-related decisions are made by a team consisting of the remodeler, designer, and a contractor that are working in concert with the customer, according to the 2013 Professional Remodeler product survey.

?Each project is different but it really depends on the homeowner and what they want in terms of the products selected,? says an Ohio-based remodeling contractor. ?They typically influence the finished products such as faucets, fixtures, and appliances. Behind the walls, the homeowner typically leaves the decision to the remodeler.?

The survey found that product selection is influenced 54 percent of the time by the remodeler, designer, and contractor. The remaining 46 percent revealed that the customer has influence over the product selection for a remodeling project.

Product influences

When the customer is responsible for product selection in a remodeling project, respondents indicated that kitchen- and bath-related products lead the way. Appliances, cabinets, countertops, faucets, floors, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and tile are the leading products selected by customers. At the other end of the spectrum, drywall, HVAC systems, insulation, masonry, skylights, and sunspace products are least influenced by the customers? input.

When remodelers, designers, and contractors are responsible for product selection, they generally specify decks/patios, doors, drywall, energy-efficient products, garage doors, HVAC systems, insulation, masonry, roofing, siding, skylights, and windows. The products least specified by contractors include appliances, carpet, faucets, floors, paint, plumbing fixtures, sunspaces, and tile.

?Generally, I recommend the finished products, but the final decision is usually made by the homeowner,? says one Arizona-based remodeler.

If a contractor hired by the remodeler has any influence on the product selection, typically is it for drywall, HVAC systems, and insulation products.

?I usually specify what products I want the contractor to use, but I will listen to any brand-related input he has for the product selection,? says a remodeler based in Colorado.

Where products are purchased

Products for remodeling projects are still purchased at the typical outlets; however, the Internet plays a small role in the purchasing process. Twenty-eight percent of products are purchased at lumber/building-material dealers, 22 percent are purchased at a wholesale supplier such as ABC Supply and Norandex, and 20 percent are purchased at big-box retailers and home-improvement centers such as Home Depot, Lowe?s, and Menards. Products are purchased directly from the supplier 15 percent of the time, while a building-materials distributor is used 13 percent of the time.

?We are starting to purchase more products online,? says one California-based remodeler. 

Not surprisingly, the leading products purchased at a lumber/building-material dealers include engineered lumber/I-joists, lumber, trim/millwork, trusses, and windows and doors.

At wholesale suppliers, remodelers typically purchase appliances, cabinets, drywall, faucets, plumbing fixtures, and roofing products. The products remodelers by the least at wholesale suppliers include fireplaces, home security/automation, HVAC systems, insulation, masonry, paint, and garage doors.

The product remodelers most often purchase from big-box retailers and/or home-improvement centers typically include drywall, faucets, insulation, lighting, locksets/hardware, paint, and the power tools used for the remodeling work. The product least purchased by remodelers are big-box retailers and/or home-improvement centers are countertops, fireplaces, garage doors, home security/automation, masonry, roofing, siding, skylights, and sunspaces.

?On the rare occasions I do buy from a big-box store, it is usually cleaning products, screws, nails, and other random materials,? says one Texas remodeler.


168 remodelers answered the survey via the Internet in July 2013. Particpants were a random sample of subscribers to Professional Remodeler print and digital editions.

When asked where they get their product information, 49 percent of remodelers indicated they get their information from trade magazines, followed by manufacturer websites (27 percent), consumer magazines (8 percent), recommendations from other remodelers (6 percent), and email newsletters (5 percent). Other responses included ?recommendations from contractors? and ?Web searches?.

Hand-tool purchasing decisions

Almost every variety, make, and model of hand tool can be found on a remodeling job. Remodelers? purchasing decisions in terms of where they purchase their hand tools is similarly broad.

Thirty-six percent of remodelers purchase their hand tools from big-box retailers and/or home-improvement centers, 18 percent purchase from wholesale suppliers, 16 percent purchase directly from the supplier, 15 percent purchase from lumber/building-material dealers, and 6 percent purchase from a building-materials supplier. The remaining 9 percent who indicated ?other? generally purchase their tools either online or from a specialty tool store. PR

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