Most of our ReaderPanel respondents agree that today's remodeling customers are more savvy and knowledgeable —about costs, products, and what they want done — than customers have been in the past.

But respondents don't necessarily agree that this is a good thing, because many prospective clients are learning about the process from television home remodeling shows, which respondents say set unrealistic expectations about project completion time, materials, scope, and life disruption.

One thing an overwhelming number of respondents — 83% — agreed on is that customers are willing to spend more money on better, more timeless materials than they have in the past.

How do your customers differ from customers of five years ago? More involved in product selection 75%
Shopping around more 65%
Better educated about the process 58%
More concerned about scheduling 51%
Researching remodelers' backgrounds more 43%
More willing to pay for design separately 33%
More willing to pay for estimating services/consultation 17%
Shopping around less 8%
Less concerned about scheduling 3%
Researching remodelers' backgrounds less 2%
Less involved in product selection 1%
Other 9%

79% of respondents said customers are more educated about remodeling projects. What do customers know more about? They know more about products 63%
They are more definite about what they want done 59%
They are more savvy about costs 35%
They are more aware of what to expect during the project 31%
They know more about the building process 30%
They know more about design 21%
They are savvy about the bidding process 17%
They understand project limitations 15%
Other 3% Do you think the popularity of home improvement-related TV has affected people's expectations?

Where do you think customers are getting their information on remodeling? Internet 78%
Books and magazines 65%
Television 64%
Friends or neighbors 56%
Home improvement and hardware stores 50%
Home shows or home tours 44%
Previous remodeling experience 38%
Other 2% In what areas are customers willing to spend more money? Finish materials (flooring, trim, moldings, cabinets) 70%
Energy-related materials (windows, doors, insulation, heating system) 57%
Luxury/convenience systems (home theatre, built-in electronics) 47%
Square footage (larger projects) 34%
Safety/security systems 19%
Accelerated schedule 9%
Other 6% Are customers finding out about your company in ways they didn't before?

What other trends are you spotting among your customers?

“Men are having more say in colors and design, while women are having more of a say in project scope, design, and budget.” Dwain Creach, Ace Renovations, Dunwoody, Ga.

“The more affluent customers seem to have an appetite for project after project, almost as if it is entertaining to be a part of a project.” Ethan Williams, Home Square Renovations, Amesbury, Mass.

“Some customers are contracting for themselves, hiring subs piecemeal instead of hiring us as general contractors.” David Ahl, Ahl Inc., Richfield, Minn.

“With current stock market trends … many customers are willing to sell their mutual funds to pay for extensive additions and remodels. They feel that investing in their home is a more sound investment that will give them an immediate return … as well as a place for the money to appreciate with them.” Jeremy Elliott, Elliott & Son Construction, Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Bathrooms are becoming a real place to get away.” Mike Ellery, S.J. Janis Company, Wauwatosa, Wisc.

“More green building — almost mainstream — and, ironically, more wasteful large square footage, more varied flooring materials, more playful lighting.” Jack Guren, Jackbuilt, Boulder, Colo.

“[Customers] are younger, and oftentimes single men and women are homeowners. There is an increase in single women homeowners who tackle remodeling.” Mark Perry, Perry Construction Co., Cedar Point, Texas.

“Some are willing to try new, unproven products that they have seen or heard about on TV. They don't think any part of their vision can't be done because the TV shows don't give the whole picture about projects.” T.R. Stanton, TRS Company, Ocean View, Hawaii.

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