Research deeply and educate generously might be a mantra at New Spaces Home Remodeling, a Minneapolis-area company whose welcoming embrace of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s tax credits is keeping it busy with siding, window, and insulation projects now -- and positioning it for a return to its larger, bread-and-butter design/build projects as the economy recovers. The company doesn’t wait for clients and prospective clients to ask about the $1,500 credits. As noted in a previous article on this site, New Spaces discusses the credits pre-emptively “with small-project clients (average job: $6,000) as well as design/build clients (average job: $120,000+). Shawn Nelson (shown in photo), president, speculates that it’s not tax credit savings that steer the sale to his company, but the simple fact that his team takes the time to discuss the credits. ‘The client can get the same tax credit working with any other contractor, but did those contractors bring it up or provide the necessary documentation?’”

Webinars play a significant role in New Spaces’ outreach strategy. Last week, Nelson hosted the first of four free webinars about four different topics:

  • Stimulus tax credits (webinar title: “How to Get Your Share of the Stimulus Money”; opening slide shown here)

  • “10 Questions to Ask a Contractor”
  • “Green Building and Remodeling”
  • and “What Is Your Unique Design Personality?”

Conducted via, for a flat fee of $99 per month, the webinars are online broadcasts that homeowners can “attend” at home, as opposed to the live workshops that New Spaces also hosts. “It’s a new format that we are experimenting with,” Nelson says. “We think it will work for topics like the stimulus, but not as well for design-oriented presentations, like our Kitchen Workshop.”

For the company’s first such webinar, on stimulus tax credits, 51 people clicked on the registration, 10 actually registered, and seven attended. “We received and answered three questions,” Nelson says, adding that every attendee stayed for the entire webinar and two used the question box to say thanks.

The other webinars attracted slightly smaller crowds, attributable in part to timing and weather -- a beautiful Saturday morning. Even so, the company has already set several appointments with webinar attendees, including some who are interested in new construction.

Webinar cons? They engender less interaction than the live workshops that New Spaces will continue to host.

Webinar pros? They’re cheaper than live workshops, whose expenses typically require food and drink ($50 to $150) and bound materials (about $5 apiece). They’re also “very convenient for consumers, and take less time for prep, presentation, and cleanup,” Nelson says.

Webinar recordings can also live on, enabling homeowners to “attend” them at virtually any time. So can you. Nelson says the New Spaces webinars will soon be posted on (sponsored by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities) and on --Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

Editor’s note: New Spaces is also positioning itself as an expert in 203(k) renovation loans, which have also been expanded by the Recovery Act. Learn more here.)