HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

Think homeowners can’t make the visual leap from an in-process remodel to a completed home? In Ann Arbor, Mich., Meadowlark Builders’ latest “Behind the Drywall” tour attracted 200 people and led to several positive media reports. In Santa Clara, Calif., HartmanBaldwin Design/Build’s “Mid-Construction Showcase” events draw full houses several times a year. Why are these events a hit?

  • Up close and personal. Meadowlark Builders’ Doug Selby and architect Michael Klement, of Architectural Resource, lead 30 or so people on hourly tours. HartmanBaldwin limits attendance to 35 to enable direct engagement with the project manager, designer, and even the homeowners, should they wish to be there. “Transparency is key to building trust,” says Karla Rodriguez, marketing director.
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  • Green showcase. Both remodelers are longtime green building proponents. Meadowlark’s August tour was of a LEED Platinum gut-remodel, and spotlighted features such as advanced framing, water conservation, a thermal envelope wall and roof assembly, and a geothermal HVAC system. HartmanBaldwin presenters include a home performance technician who discusses the home’s energy audit and proposed remedies.
  • Tightly choreographed. Meadowlark Builders’ walk-throughs last an hour and point out the home’s most notable green features, as identified in handouts. HartmanBaldwin’s events last 90 minutes and provide a detailed explanation of the basic remodeling process, along with assurances about protection measures and staff-client communication.
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  • Free with registration. Meadowlark promotes its tours through the media and ads; pre-registration is required at www.behindthedrywall.com. HartmanBaldwin also advertises but screens callers to be sure they realize the home is mid-remodel, and not completed.
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The events aren’t free to the remodelers, of course. Selby estimates that each “drywall” tour costs $2,000 or so, between insurance, marketing, handouts, and staff time. But “they get people talking” and have led to several significant contracts, he says.

—Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

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