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Real-life remodeling is nothing like TV

By Allen Norwood

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    The Ideal Home Show continues today and tomorrow at The Park at 2500 E. Independence Blvd. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. today, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $9 at the door – under 15 free with paying adult – and parking is $7. Information: www.southernidealhomeshow.com.



Remodeling contractors spend lots of time trying to persuade homeowners that projects take longer than they seem to on television.

Michael DiFabion, president of the Charlotte chapter of NARI, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, will take another crack at that today at the Southern Ideal Home Show.

“One of the things that we’ve been battling recently is the realistic time it takes,” he said. “On television, they do it in an episode. In a weekly episode. No, it takes a lot longer than that.”

DiFabion is speaking three times today at the show, at 10:15, 11:15 and 12:15. He’ll talk about how to budget, choose a contractor and tackle a project.

How long projects take – realistically – will likely come up, too.

DiFabion Remodeling, started by Michael’s father, Mike, has won lots of honors for its work. The company trophy case must look like Jimmie Johnson’s.

When I saw that Michael was going to speak, I called and asked one question: What do homeowners think they know about remodeling, that’s probably wrong?

How long projects take, he said quickly. “If you’re going to do things the right way, each phase of the project drives the next.” In other words, each has to be complete, properly, before the next can start. And never mind potential holdups such as permits.

One show on TV, “Renovation Raiders,” drives me to distraction – and I’m not in the business. The host and her crew remodel a kitchen while the owners are out to dinner. How in the world do they install tile floors and backsplashes in such a short time? The adhesive has to dry, for goodness’ sake, and then the grout.

They don’t. They fudge – in ways you might not want in your own kitchen.

DiFabion said remodelers are feeling good about their industry as the Ideal Home Show continues its three-day run, and the country pulls out of the doldrums.

A few years ago, contractors said projects tended to be smaller and, of course, less expensive. Now, homeowners who might have built decks during the slowdown are more likely to choose screened porches and even sunrooms.

“Even if they could afford it (a few years ago), they wouldn’t remodel because of the uncertainty,” DiFabion said. “They stopped, or scaled back. Now, certainty has returned, and the size of projects has definitely gone up.”

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