Homeowners stepping up research before taking on home projects

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Do you enjoy a theater quality experience from the comfort of your own home? Does your kitchen resemble that of the finest restaurants? If you answered “yes” then you’re among the growing number of discerning consumers who consider themselves “prosumers.”

The term prosumer describes enthusiasts who buy products generally preferred by professionals, or fall within professional grade standards. Bottom line, prosumers are empowered by ever-improving access to information – and they’re growing in number.

Recognizing the power and importance of the highly-informed and engaged prosumer, brands are taking notice. In fact, for years categories such as electronics and home appliances have catered to prosumers; however, as prosumers are learning more about additional product categories, one category of interest is emerging based on its required investment of time and money – home building products.

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Even if you’re a seasoned prosumer, you may find making decisions about your home intimidating. It’s no surprise – your home is likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make. So if you want to feel more confident in your purchase decisions, here are some tips:

Look to the pros

Building or remodeling a home is often a collaborative process between the homeowner and the builder, designer or architect. And the best way to learn about what will be best for you is to ask questions. Find out what brands they prefer, why they prefer them, as well as how they compare to other brands. You may discover a brand you’ve never heard of, and it could be the perfect fit for you. Don’t have a professional you can turn to? Look to a well-known architect or designer you respect, you can always reach out to them through their blog or social media.

Be in the know

Another surefire way to make a good decision is to learn as much as you can about a product, from flooring to siding, to windows and doors. Much of the information out there is not a trade secret. There are several resources where you can learn right alongside builders and architects about what’s new in the industry, what’s up-and-coming, and what’s performing beyond or below expectation. Trade magazines, for example, provide a wealth of information and may have digital versions online for free. Industry blogs are another resource and often offer the opportunity for interactive conversation.

Let brands help you

Brands previously only known by building professionals are recognizing prosumers, and they’re doing what they can to not only be considered, but to also help prosumers become even more informed. One such brand is Kolbe; one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of premium quality windows and doors, Kolbe can be found in the extraordinary homes of the rich and famous.

“Beauty, craftsmanship and artistry are hallmarks of Kolbe products; these are just a few of the reasons we’ve long enjoyed a solid reputation among architects and building professionals,” explains Cindy Bremer, vice president of marketing for Kolbe. “When we saw an emergence of consumers looking for professional quality home products, we seized the opportunity to reach out to them, and let them know what architects have known for years – with options, innovations and custom solutions, Kolbe allows you to reimagine the limits of what’s possible.”

One example of Kolbe’s efforts to accommodate prosumers was the launch of its consumer-friendly website (kolbewindows.com). The site prioritizes accessibility and helps you find the right information at the right time, all while giving you more control in the decision process with the My Vision feature. This interactive tool allows you to save inspirational photos, products, options and finishes to a Vision Board, an online portfolio that can be shared socially, emailed or printed. The Vision Board is the perfect way for prosumers to share their vision with friends, family or the professional they are working with.

Bottom line, if you follow the above tips, you’ll have a good basis for making smart decisions when it comes to your home. But remember; no matter what brands you choose, your home shouldn’t be a container of stuff. The choices you make should have a purpose in line with the overall design goal, and they should complement the space by enhancing your daily life.