An award-winning remodeling portfolio can have an exponential impact on your marketing reach. Compiling these awards takes more than artful design and execution, however. Presentation is almost as important.

In choosing the winning entries of the 2007 Remodeling Design Awards, six judges spent most of two days reviewing more than 230 projects submitted by remodelers from all over the country. Most entries had many photographs along with floor plans and narratives, and time restrictions forced the judges to flip through them all quickly and set aside only those that made a strong first impression.

Here are some tips on how to make your entry stand out.

  • This may go without saying, but enter only your best projects, and don't feel that they must be cutting-edge or modern, either. Vernacular architecture is a good thing, said one judge. "Architects seem to gravitate toward the exciting, contemporary designs, which actually represent only a small fraction of the actual work put in place in the U.S."
  • Put your most dramatic photographs at the front of the binder. "It really boils down to the initial gestalt of opening that first page," said one judge. Don't make them wade through the "before" or "progress" shots before revealing the finished product. You may not hold their interest that long.
  • Invest in hiring a professional photographer, preferably one who specializes in architectural photography. Present your photos and other images logically, with plenty of white space and clear captions, so there's no confusion as to what's being shown.
  • Provide before-and-after floor plans that leave no confusion over the actual scope of work or parts of the home that were impacted.
  • Follow the directions! Be sure your project meets the competition's eligibility guidelines and your entry follows the specified format. "You might think you're being clever if you vary from the prescription, but it's just one more thing for us to have to wade through," said one judge.
  • Think about context. If you're showing exterior photos, help the judges understand that the project is compatible with its neighborhood. In interior photos, furnishings should be appropriate for the style.
  • Be honest. Don't fudge project costs to be eligible for potentially less-competitive categories. Entries that claim suspiciously low cost ranges are often disqualified, even if the work is beautiful. If your costs don't include materials or appliances, say so. The judges will understand. --L.T.