How can homeowners make the most out of home shows?


Despite what the weather might suggest, spring has officially arrived, inspiring lots of families to start thinking about ambitious exterior, landscape and other home improvement projects. In anticipation of the coming renovation and installation season, massive home shows are going on all over the country. These exhibitions feature a dizzying array of product vendors and professionals, so homeowners can check out the newest trends and meet the experts who can bring those ideas to life.

Why We’re Asking:

Home shows can be daunting for the uninitiated. Massive buildings, countless vendors and limited time frames make it hard to determine where to go, who to talk to and what questions to ask.

We want to know what homeowners should look for when attending home shows and we can’t think of anyone who would know better than the people running the booths, so we’re turning to our panel of home improvement experts.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

How can homeowners make the most of home shows?

What are the benefits of attending home shows?
What should homeowners look for at home shows if they’re interested in hiring new professionals?
What questions should they ask? What are some warning signs of scams or bad deals?
Are home shows good places to find professionals? Do you have any tips for other professionals who may be attending their first home show as a vendor?

We’d like to thank Steve Sparhawk of DeckTec Designs who was the inspiration for this week’s question. If you have an idea for a blog-off question, shoot us an e-mail at

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!


  1. First one needs to ask what are you after? If you are wanting information on the products, or design ideas, or best prices, or you are searching for Home Improvements that will give you a return on investment. Is your interest a “Green/Sustainable” one or one of practical use, or simply charm and beauty. I assure you, if all you want just a lot of visits from sales people you can get that with out reading this advice. Your search needs to be prepared and focused otherwise. You need to be able to answer questions like is your house a slab on grade, or what type of roof, or avg. electric bill, or Gas bill water bill. Is your house facing south? Sq. footage, width of widest door for access, do you have Code restrictions and covenants?, Do you have extra space in your electric service panel for more?, What is your R-Value on insulation?, What ever could affect the choices and limiting factors. “I dunno, is not what a smart buyer says. Read your Water Bill, Power bills understand your need, goal and relevant issues. Shopping with just a willingness to be sold on something believable is not good. Claims are made by people who are honestly just doing their job and actually believe the claims they make. Often they are trained by the Manufacturer and are quite convincing. I could tell you of some myths in the Home Improvement industry but better keep that for another story. Most Contractors Licenses are issued starting with low numbers and going up from there, the lower the number the older the License. Get familiar with where numbers are now and verify a claim of 30 yrs. experience. Every Biz Card will have this # on it, this is an indication of experience. The License Boards often have a Website where one can search things that matter. Might I rephrase the question? “How might Home owners get the Best out of a Home Show”
    Greg Chick, Ramona’s Plumber

  2. Home shows are a good way to see some of the new trends and products that are out there. I just went to the AD Home show over the weekend and yes, it is definitely intimidating. But I went in with the game plan of visiting a few vendors whose product I favor and to get an overall sense of what trends were happening in the design industry. For a homeowner who is, let’s say, renovating a kitchen, a home show can give them an idea of some new products available that wouldn’t be on display in a home improvement store.

    If there are contractor professionals, it’s an easy way to get a sense of their personality and how well they communicate. Yes, that does matter if someone is going to be working on your home for a significant length of time. From there, a homeowner can get their information and do some research to validate their credentials.

  3. I happen to love home shows because it gives me ideas and inspiration. I do talk to the salespeople and get information but go home and research the product first.

    So, my advice would go for inspiration, keep your mind open to new possibilities, but do your homework after the show.

  4. Home Shows are a terrific place to start your research as you can gather as much information on companies and their products/services as you want and need. You are able to visit with representatives from various companies and get their expert opinions on your upcoming project. Obviously most companies are there to make money, so be aware that they will try to sell you on their products and services. That being said, many companies will even offer you do-it-yourself advice and other freebies. The most important thing is to get the contact information for these companies or allow them to give you an estimate on your project. You won’t truly know all of your options with each company until they make an in-home visit.

  5. I would go to the show with a photo album containing photos of my project area,whether it was the house or something else, also a fact sheet containing critical information about the project area, like Greg Chick said. When you select someone to make your dream home happen, stop and call the Dept. of Labor and Industries, check their licenses, check Angies List and see if they have any bad reviews, get copies of their insurance, bonds, and licenses.Check with the BBB and see if they have any bad reviews. Get a couple of bids from other contractors to make sure the price is right.

    Don’t get suckered. Enjoy the project.

  6. Obviously, I had some tips to share when I suggested this topic!

    Have a reason. Whether you’re attending for inspiration or you have a specific project in mind, know why you are spending time at the show in the first place. Most shows have so many exhibitors, there is surely something for everyone.

    Make a plan. Now that you know why you’re going, grab a floorplan and a cup of coffee and plan out your time at the show. Have an idea of which exhibitors (or which types of vendors) you want to visit and find out where they are located on the show floor. From there, you can formulate a plan of attack.

    Go back for seconds. No one is going to think you’re a glutton if you visit a booth twice or even three times. Make another pass and if you’re interested in a product, stop and talk with the exhibitor and set up an appointment to meet at a later date.

    Get ideas.One of the best things that we love about home shows is they are a great opportunity for us to showcase new products and designs to spur inspiration among homeowners. Bring a camera and snap photos of ideas you like so that when it comes time to incorporating them into your own design, you don’t have to try remembering or describing what you saw.

    Find an app for that. The most convenient tool you can bring with you to the home show is your smart phone. As vendors are doing away with bulky printed materials, you’ll want to make sure you have a few apps on your phone: a camera, a QR code reader, and a notepad app. This will make sure that you can capture the necessary information and find it easily when you get home.

    Most of all, have fun! Home shows are intended to be an enjoyable process, not a daunting chore.

  7. Attending a home show is great for many reasons. On the consumer side, you have the ability to see many of the biggest names in the industry in one place. Although the setting may be overwhelming, most home shows will provide a list of attendees prior to the event, and if you do a little research you will be ready to navigate the maze. Doing this initial research will also save you time – you may end up staying at the show all day! – and allow you to move freely among the exhibitors.

    On the corporate side, the first and most important step is choosing the right show to attend. Presence is important, but if you are at a show that does not pertain to your area of expertise or consumer market, then your time is wasted. For example, if you are in homebuilding like us here at Grand View Builders, a presence at a builder show that is for commercial real estate is not the best place for you to be. Once you have chosen the right show however, you can see the benefit of bringing the name of your company into the spotlight. Many shows bring in thousands of people so it is a great way for new businesses to make a name for themselves and for current industry influencers to maintain a presence. For example, Grand View Builders was recently at the Austin Home and Garden Show during the weekend of March 3rd. It is important to have someone that knows and understands your brand to be manning your table as well. The ability to explain each plan, feature, location, etc. that your company provides is essential so that you do not loose consumer interest or create confusion.

  8. I enjoy home shows to see what’s new and what trends other professionals see ahead. So much more technology is being integrated into our designs that we have to stay in a learning mode. Clients usually start that learning curve six months to a year before they meet with me and many times one of the tools of choice is a visit to a home show.
    This year our Rutt Handcrafted Cabinet line has partnered with Harmon Kardon at the Kitchen and Bath show to feature a flat speaker that is routed into the back of a cabinet door; keeping the face of the door intact (no opening or speaker cloth) and not using any of the space inside the cabinet for the speakers. The speaker is probably less than an inch thick, and the sub-woofer is hidden in the toe kick. One of those really “Wow” accessories for a kitchen or den. Without trade shows and home shows we would never have the time or opportunity to look in depth into the application, function and quality level of many of these products all in one space.
    If you have limited time, say focused on your priorities and ask a lot of questions. It’s a good idea if you are looking at very new products to ask if they are available immediately. Sometimes new models are brought to home shows that are not available until the second half of the year.

  9. Q: What are the benefits of attending home shows?
    A: Home shows are a great resource to go see various vendors and the respective products they offer. It can be fun time for children too as some vendors have services and products to engage the whole family. It is a great place where many vendors show off something new that you may not have heard of.

    Q: Are home shows good places to find professionals? A: Perhaps to answer this question would be more important. Absolutely, but this is certainly not definitive. There are many tradesmen / women who do not advertize and are word to mouth referred. Often these folks are smaller in size of business, but have a very professional setup to their business. They often are more in-touch with their client’s needs than larger outfits. This does not mean that larger firms are out of touch, I just prefer to get more hands on with the projects I am having done.

    Q: What should homeowners look for at home shows if they’re interested in hiring new professionals?
    A: Once you know what kind of professional you need such as an electrician or landscaper, it is a great opportunity to see how they present themselves in such environments. Also look for associations to various professional organizations that one may be a member of.

    Q: What questions should they ask?
    • How long have you been in business?
    • How many projects like this have you performed?

    Q: What are some warning signs of scams or bad deals? A: The biggest one I can think of are the vendors that have a sales person there and no local presence. I believe this is often found in the roofing contractors.

    Q: Do you have any tips for other professionals who may be attending their first home show as a vendor?
    A: Attend not as a “professional”, but as a client. Do not setup a booth, but observe what others are doing that provide the same trades and services. Find out those who are browsing for the services you provide. Take lost of business cards, network and have fun. Do not focus on sales, but attempt to generate leads through friendly conversations. Why waste your money on booth, along with the trinkets etc., rather if you are able to generate 1 or 2 good leads that you convert to sales, you have done excellent.

  10. Since most home shows are concentrated during the fall and spring, Roomations posted some tips on our blog last Setember on this very subject! Here’s the cliff notes on how to have an effective home show visit according to Roomations Co-Founder and Cincinnati homeowner Jessica Goldberg:

    1. Have a clear idea of what you want to redo in your house, then target booths at the show most relevant to your needs.

    2.Get the home show guide online prior to the show, choose which vendors you want to see most and map out your route.

    3. Do research on costs, materials and installation times prior to the show so you are prepared to ask more in depth questions that generate insightful answers.

    4.Take notes on the pamphlets of companies that were of interest to you with product or service, cost and contact information then follow up immediately after the home show.

    Read Jessica’s complete tips at

  11. The first thing is to plan ahead. Have some idea about the kinds of projects you are likely to undertake in the next 12 months. If you are further along in your planning then this is an opportunity to accomplish several things:
    1. get inspired
    2. meet companies that you may want to hire
    3. get a look at trends and new techniques while they are still young
    4. have an opportunity to ask questions about your projects
    5. have fun!

  12. One of the best uses of a home show is to be exposed to different ideas that you might not think of otherwise. Sometimes you’ll learn about products you never knew existed. Or you might get some ideas on how to use something in a different way. And you’ll also get the chance to ask questions and see presentations that will help you think of other questions when it is time to buy.

    Of course, buying something at a home show can be exciting. But the learning experience might just give you some new ideas or help you save money if you give it some thought before you buy.

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