The exhibition halls of the Remodeling Show | Deck Expo | JLC Live were filled with experts giving tips for solving tricky issues on the job.
The exhibition halls of the Remodeling Show | Deck Expo | JLC Live were filled with experts giving tips for solving tricky issues on the job.

The annual Remodeling Show, which has combined for several years now with the Deck Show, grew once again this year by becoming a JLC Live venue. This year’s event brought about 6,000 attendees (50% more than last year) and 260 vendors to the Baltimore Convention Center on Oct. 22 to 24 for three days of programs, products, and perspectives on our industry. Here’s a sampling of some of this year’s speakers and events. Visit for product-related news from the Show floor.

NAHB Remodeler of the Year
The Remodeler's Role in Creating Healthy Homes
Two Key Rules for Adopting New Technology
Top Tips for Avoiding OSHA Citations
How to Generate More Online Leads Through SEO

NAHB Remodeler of the Year

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers used its annual gala dinner to name Tim Ellis, president of T.W. Ellis, in Bel Air, Md., as the 2014 NAHB Remodeler of the Year. Ellis has worked in the remodeling industry for 20 years. His was the first residential remodeling project certified to the 2012 National Green Building Standard. He served as chair of the Home Builders Association of Maryland Remodelers Council and is an NAHB National Director and a member of the NAHB Remodelers Board of Trustees. 

At that same dinner, NAHB named Susan Bachner of Susan Bachner Consulting, in Lexington, Ky., as the winner of its Home for Life Award for major spaces, and Sandra Rawls Oltmanns of Naples, Fla., as winner of the award for smaller spaces.

The Remodeler’s Role in Creating Healthy Homes

Larry Zarker sees a day coming when physicians will use Obamacare to hire remodelers as part of an effort to fight Americans’ breathing problems.

Zarker, CEO of the Building Performance Institute (BPI), said that the Affordable Care Act has adjusted language regarding who a physician can assign to provide in-home treatment under Medicaid. It used to specify that such treatment must be provided by a licensed health-care worker. Now, it says that a qualified provider can provide the treatment—and to Zarker, that could include a “healthy home” specialist.

Zarker said that there’s activity under way in at least 14 states in which healthy homes could play a role in reducing hospital readmissions, thus helping insurance companies limit the cost of care. Hundreds of studies suggest that conditions in the home contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems. And two National Center for Healthy Housing surveys of those studies concluded that ventilation-heating retrofits, re-roofing for leaks, and removal of water-damaged materials can all play a role in reducing respiratory ailments.

Two Key Rules for Adopting New Technology

Joe Stoddard regularly draws a crowd with his “Cheap Tricks” review of appealing software and hardware for remodelers, and his 90-minute compilation of new technology didn’t disappoint. But at the end of his presentation, Stoddard cautioned that while those new tricks may be great, the biggest trick is getting workers to adopt a technology. “We say adoption is everything,” said Stoddard, principal at Mountain Consulting Group, in Lawrenceville, Pa. “Unless you get people to use [the technology], you won’t get value.” To that end, he offered two keys to success:

1. Ensure ease of use: If you’re selecting apps that people don’t like to use, they won’t use them. “As you evaluate this stuff, make sure it’s easy and fun to use,” Stoddard said. “That’s probably as important as the actual capability of the software. If it confuses you, it’ll confuse your staff even more, as they aren’t as invested in this as you are. Put usability high on your list.”

2. Designate a user: Concede that you may have to actually assign somebody to use the software while letting others keep operating the old way. Apps such as BuilderTrend or Co-Construct depend on people in the field making daily updates, Stoddard said. So do customer relationship management software programs. If your project manager, lead carpenter, or sales staff don’t want to input those updates or say that they don’t have time, then create a position in the office whose job it is to call each day and run down the app’s list of things that need updating. “This way, you’re not forcing [the field staff] to do something they hate, but they’ll get the benefit from the technology,” Stoddard said. “Don’t obsess about [their refusals] beyond that. Just accept that somebody who isn’t tech-savvy won’t do something you want done. Have someone else do it.”

Top Tips for Avoiding OSHA Citations

Matt Murphy, CEO of See Inc., has seen it all when it comes to OSHA violations. In his session titled “OSHA’s Top 10 Citations and How to Avoid Them,” Murphy outlined some of the more serious—and some of the more outlandish—examples of jobsite violations, and how remodelers can recognize, avoid, and remedy those common mistakes and hazards. 

Remodelers gathered new insights during sessions that ranged from hands-on demonstrations to classroom-style lectures. 
Remodelers gathered new insights during sessions that ranged from hands-on demonstrations to classroom-style lectures.

Murphy listed fall protection, proper scaffolding, and knowing how to properly use ladders as the top three citations issued by the agency. In 2013, those three citations cost remodelers $33.5 million in OSHA fines. Throughout the presentation, slides of remodelers perched atop sketchy scaffolding and stacked buckets prompted chuckles and even gasps from the audience. At one point, an audience member raised his hand to ask, “Are these setups? Where do you find these photos?” To which Murphy replied, “walking jobsites.” His program also aimed to highlight where to find referenced regulations online and ways to help remodelers understand the steps of an OSHA inspection and what the remodeler’s rights are. 

The next five most-cited violations are: understanding hazard communication; not wearing proper eye, face, or head protection; improper use of aerial lifts; disobeying excavation requirements; and not following general safety and health provisions.

But the session also detailed some of the more harrowing consequences related to OSHA violations. Murphy recalled a tale in which a contractor died during a cave-in caused by an improperly braced excavation. The job’s total cost was just $6,000. “That will stick with me for the rest of my life,” he said. 

  • Murphy gave attendees a list of seven things to do when the OSHA inspector shows up:
  • Verify the OSHA compliance officer’s credentials
  • Be polite and respectful
  • Participate in an opening conference
  • Select employer representatives
  • Participate in the walk-around
  • Take notes and pictures
  • Participate in a closing conference

How to Generate More Online Leads Through SEO

From Houzz profiles and Yelp reviews to the details of improving the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, there are plenty of ways to boost the probability that homeowners will find your business online. But what’s the best way? Short answer: There is no best way.

In “How to Get More Leads in 15 Minutes a Day With Search Engine Optimization (SEO),” business marketing expert Elton Mayfield argued that implementing SEO—the process of making your website appear more frequently in Web searches—on your company’s site is a no-brainer. According to Mayfield, Google accounts for 80% of all Web searches, 94% of all page clicks on Google come from the first page, and 85% of consumers say they use Google’s search function to find local businesses. By that logic, Mayfield says, shouldn’t you try to land your business on the first page of a Google search? 

But therein lies the challenge: Google rankings are based on a proprietary algorithm that assigns weight to websites based on site content. Loading up your site with relevant blog posts and pages related to remodeling would, in theory, give you a leg up. But Mayfield says that going that route can take up to a year to get on the front page. And don’t forget that the remodelers in your area are vying for those top spots, too. Still, Mayfield says that SEO optimization is too valuable a strategy to ignore.

But SEO isn’t the only way to gain clicks. Users rely on sites such as Houzz to find local remodelers. At Houzz Community Team member Michael Stein’s seminar, “Design Trends and Motivations in Renovations,” he detailed how to build a basic but effective Houzz profile to attract a share of Houzz’s 20 million monthly users. For instance, Stein said, include design photos with bold colors to attract younger homeowners.

Whichever online strategy you opt for, one thing is clear: You need to have a strategy.