Rochester Area Builder Home Show ‘bigger, better’ says attendee – Post Bulletin

David Beckam

ROCHESTER — If you asked Rochester Area Builder Executive Director John Eischen to name something he was especially excited for in the 43rd annual RAB Home Show, he’d tell you it was liking picking a favorite child.

“I’m always excited about the show,” he said Friday afternoon. It really doesn’t matter (the project), there’s somebody here that can talk about their specific needs, whether it’s landscaping or basement finishes, or replacing windows or financing. It’s pretty much a one-stop shop for anybody that’s thinking about doing a renovation project or a new home build.”

On Saturday, Anna Froehling, a Rochester homeowner, visited the show for a chance to get ideas for an upcoming kitchen and bathroom remodel. Froehling said she already had a company for the project, which had been about a decade in the making, but still needed information for a deck install and landscaping as well.

Also checking out the exhibitors spread out across the Mayo Civic Center’s ballroom were Darlene and Jerry Larson. The Rochester couple had a list of home projects — a new front door, epoxy flooring for their garage and updates for their kitchen — to gather information on.

“We enjoy coming,” Darlene said, adding they continually have projects to do at their home and the home show is a way to get good ideas, contacts and sometimes a discount.

They noted that this year’s show felt “bigger, better” than the year before.

While neither Froehling nor the Larsons said their projects were spurred by the pandemic, nationwide there has been a boom in home remodeling and it is forecast to continue in 2022.

“We saw a big shift in what homeowners were doing in terms of improvements, maintenance, repairs, a lot of DIY activity, kind of ticked up in 2020.” said Abbe Will, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, said in a phone interview on Friday. “And then in 2021, we saw the growth and remodeling grow faster and certainly faster than that long term average.”

In a piece for the Joint Center

, Will wrote that the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity projects double-digit gains in annual homeowner renovation and maintenance expenditure will top out in the third quarter of 2022.

One of the first things visitors to the home show saw Saturday as they walked into the ballroom at Mayo Civic Center was Sargent’s booth. The landscaping and nursery’s booth looked right out of a millennial Instagram page with a plant wall, midcentury modern-style couch and a neon pink light that read “#WeDigSargents.”

Ben Vaughn, of Sargent’s, said that over the pandemic, gardening and landscaping has skyrocketed as people have realized the value in investing in the beauty of their space.

Trends among millennials and Gen-Zers moving away from fresh-cut flowers and into house plants and living have brought Sargent’s business into interior spaces, according to Vaughn.

For Les Radcliffe’s home building, remodeling and handyman business, Radcliffe Homes & Remodeling, the past two years has seen customers working from home and wanting remodels to accommodate that purpose.

“And then I think there’s people that are changing to a different home for the same kind of reasons,” Radcliffe said. “And I think that our interest rates have been really favorable. So even though our building costs have gone up a lot, it’s still favorable to build.”

Radcliffe, who calls Ultimate Outdoor Furnace his “hobby” business, was also scheduled to present a seminar on biomass heat and sustainable living.

That topic may be of extra interest to some homeowners as

recent cold temperatures and the increase in natural gas costs caused heating bills to rise

. A 26% tax credit offered by the federal government on qualifying furnaces is also helping Radcliffe attract potential customers.

“People are uncertain what energy is going to cost and if you live in a rural environment where you have wood and there’s plenty of dying trees, it’s pretty easy to have,” Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe has been attending the home show for more than three decades.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to meet people and, you know, kind of show what you can do,” Radcliffe said. “And hopefully somebody comes by that needs your services and you connect.”

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