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Best Resources for Home Improvement Professionals

Half the battle of being successful in an industry is simply knowing where to look to find out what you need to know to solve any problem presented to you. With smart phones and the internet, accessing information is easier than ever, but there is a lot of bad information out there and finding a resource that is both helpful and trustworthy can be quite a challenge. This week, we’re exploring the resources our home improvement professionals use in their every day life, to find out where the experts turn when they need a little advice themselves.

Why We’re Asking

Even the most seasoned expert sometimes comes across a problem he or she isn’t sure how to solve, and has to turn to the wisdom of the collective community. We know there are many resources out there that our experts make great use of in their businesses, and we want to know what they are. Who do the experts go to, to make sure they can do their jobs with efficiency and accuracy?

So tell us, experts:

What are your favorite home improvement resources?

Who do you turn to when you’re stumped by a project?

Are there any popular apps or websites that you like? How about ones you don’t like?

Where do you find specialty materials? Are there any companies you recommend for hard-to-find tools or supplies?

With so much information in the world, it can be hard to find the resources that are really worth your time. We look forward to hearing about what works for you!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Josh Brooker 11/18/13

    The Internet! The availability of information online is amazing. As a rule, if it exist, you can find it online. I like good old fashion Google search for most information. Google search is actually better than even visiting a specialty website. With product related questions, I find it easier to get to a manufacture’s product page using Google than actually searching the manufactures page. For example, if I need a installation manual for a 5 year old spa, I will Google search the model number and brand with the keyword “Manual.” Usually, one of the first page results will be a link to the online PDF. A trick I use for finding information without a model number is to do an image search. I’ll scroll through the images until I find a match and then get the information from the website that originally posted the picture. For installation help, I use YouTube. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is priceless. For inspiration we use Houzz.com and Pinterest.com. These sites are also useful for “idea checking.” Sometimes a lighting design or bathroom installation is very pretty in your mind but not once its installed. Checking other peoples’ version of your plan can insure that you will like the finished product. For tools, I recommend ToolUp.com. Lastly, for local company’s like Lowes and Home Depot be sure to use their website to verify inventory. Before trekking across town to pickup a breaker or outlet, I’ll check the store stock first.

  • Jennifer Dusina / Organized Living 11/15/13

    Recently, we set up a free account on Houzz.com. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s a leading online platform for home remodeling and design. The site connects millions of homeowners, designers and home improvement professionals across the country. We post images of our completed projects on the site for free for others to see. Not only does it drive a lot of traffic to our website, it’s a great site for crowdsourcing because we can follow the most popular storage trends. Plus, we can tell which product finishes consumers prefer and incorporate the learnings into our product development initiatives.

  • Grand View Builders 11/15/13

    While the Internet is a great source of information, there will be many instances where the issues facing a home improvement professional will be specific to a certain project and it may not be possible to find a solution through a quick web search. Luckily, Grand View Builders has a network of partners that we work very closely with on all of our construction projects. Our network of partners includes experts covering all aspects of the home construction spectrum from kitchen appliances, flooring designs, faucets and plumbing appliances to cabinets, brick, roofing and even pest control. By establishing this network of partners, Grand View Builders always has a trusted panel of experts to turn to should an issue arise. It is important to establish these working and longstanding partnerships because the more the companies work together, the better they understand the business and can best help solve any problem that is presented. For some, the internet may be the first resource that comes to mind when tackling an unfamiliar tasks, but for Grand View Builders, partnerships and collaboration has proven to be the most success tactic.

  • Nancy Dalton 11/14/13

    As an owner of a design build firm I need resources on both the custom design side and the installation side of things. In fact with some of the very complicated projects I work on, I’m not sure how you could provide accurate design work without the clear understanding of the installation.
    Every resource I use has a person on the other end of the line. There are web sites and even manufacturers installation guides but I really want a trusted professional to also consult with as well. A good example that I run into are high end appliance specs that are not entirely clear; some are but many are not. I build in appliances but in my field there are different kinds of built in installations. Flush framed installation or just a framed installation, or are you after a frameless installation? If you don’t know what you actually need you won’t know which dimensional guide is correct.
    My resources are my engineering team at Rutt HandCrafted cabinetry. They’ve helped me engineer very specific custom cabinets as well as custom LED lighting and motor applications. I also depend on Wick at Hafele America for LED specs and custom storage solutions. Kirk Fisher at Albert Lee helps me find the buried hard to find critical dimensions for some of my appliance “dimension critical” installations. Karen, Nancy, Susan and Belinda at Statements work with me and several custom tile and stone/glass manufactures on some unbelievable projects. Robbie my representative from Fabrica Carpet has been wonderful for so many years on many of our carpet and custom rug projects.
    Since I’m part of this industry I have a terrific team of people to work with, for a homeowner I would suggest learning more about a product and then finding out if there is a local representative or even e-mail the manufacturer with questions. Usually they will put you together with a knowledgeable person that works with their products.

  • Mark Puglisi, ACE 11/14/13

    I’m fortunate to be in a very technical industry, so resources are plentiful, such as Universities, manufacturers, advisers, state boards, local regulatory agencies, etc. The Internet can be a great help with some things in life, but the truth is there is a lot of bad info out there because no one has to fact check the info. We all have our preferred sources when it comes to help when we need it, and some of it can be protected from company to company. Social media is another great way to establish connection with others that may do what you. Following blogs are another great resource that can establish authority among a specific trade or service. The good thing about all this is you’re never really alone, so you can always reach out for help in so many places.

  • Katie@Roomations.com 11/12/13

    Internet wise, there are dozens of websites that lend advice and give tips to Home Improvement professionals. But I think we’re all still struggling to find the most reliable, credible resources. Personally, I find a lot of inspiration and answers on Diynetwork.com as well as familyhandyman.com. These are two sites that I find incredibly useful when stuck on a project or need to find easier directions. As far as tools and supplies go, I am and always will be a huge Home Depot fan!

  • Tanya Stock 11/12/13

    The Library and your community. Any homeowner looking to improve their home needs to take a walk through their neighborhood to see the style of homes or as I say “the lay of the land.” Understanding the look and feel of an area does give you an idea of what you may or may not want to do. Sore thumbs stand out and sometimes you really don’t want to be that sore thumb.

    When you are done with that idea head to library to see historical pictures of the area to see if your home has a history to it and in turn can you rennovate something old into something new.

    Then take a look at the great books of design that are there for free. The purpose is supporting the library and also the idea that books are by far more useful in providing clear illustrations and visions than the 3.5 card you call a smartphone.

    Then lastly the bank. Talk about money really talk about money and what you can and cannot spend. Realistic budgets make for realistic plans and in turn can save you much headaches and costs later.

  • Greg Chick 11/11/13

    There is no one source, there is a long list of speciality products only found at specialty suppliers. Local sources are best for china and large items. Pipe and tanks and large items are sometimes available, sometimes not. Here is a good example. I get a Rainwater catchment system project, they need 5, 1,000 gal tanks, one at each corner of house. The gutters are “farmed out” the tanks come from regional supplier. The UV light water treatment unit could be shipped for free with the tanks if the vendor also sells them. Regional tree chipping mulch is a no brainer. This might be a semi load of 20 cubic yards. My pumps might come from a regional distributer. I have been known to buy plumbing faucets/fixtures from auctions across the country. Online is a good source, but keeping local is “Green” or smart to reduce environmental impact. The USGBC LEED rating system has points just for that very thing. Buying products made in China are contrary to this point. Domestic is my #1 choice for origin of mfgr. I risk sounding like an “agent” of any company so I will refrain, but some mfgrs. sell direct to contractors and I use that when I can. I buy products where I have a relationship with the factory rep. or such and can get direct and fast results on any product issue the customer or I have. I am on first name basis with all my providers. As a 35 + yr. veteran in the trades I have an “extended family”. This is how I can promise excellence and deliver it. Products that I can install and not look back, that is what my costumers get, and I get less troubles. Price? yes that is on my agenda, but price is not my driving force. Opening a shipment and finding everything in place, as ordered is priceless. As for payment, I always use a debit card, I get points and never forget a debit or have late fees. Most vendors will give a 2% discount for cash. My vendors have an accounts payable dept. and I store my card # on file there and am on first name basis with the person there in that dept.
    Where I do not shop, is where I can not have a direct relationship with a real person. or discount places selling all import and inferior products.

  • Doug Murrell 11/11/13

    One word is all I need to say for me and the internet is the gateway to knowledge. You want to know about it just ask the internet it will tell you. The best resource I know of

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