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How professional association members can help ensure the success of your project

Story by ALASKA HOME staff

Thinking about starting a home building or remodeling project? Choosing the right professional is an important decision for your project's success. For a little extra peace of mind, consider hiring a member of your local home builders association or kitchen and bath association. Members of these associations have a great advantage over nonmembers – and that's a plus for consumers.

One of the greatest benefits to consumers? It's the educational edge these builders, designers and remodelers gain from their membership, says Kyle Mirka, sales manager at Allen & Petersen. Mirka also sits on the executive boards for the Anchorage Home Builders Association (AHBA) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Alaska Chapter.

"Through the continued education of the contractors, the consumer receives a finished product that is up to new standards," he says. "And of course they're receiving the experience that these long-time members have to offer. Members of these associations generally have a desire to be involved within their community, and to better their industry which is a huge consumer benefit that isn't spoken of often."

To successfully compete, today's home building and remodeling businesses need to keep on top of new technology, new materials, legislation, regulations and so much more. It takes a lot of work and the NKBA and HBAs exist to help their members, and that directly benefits the consumer.

When hiring a professional to work on your dream kitchen or bath, be sure to look for the NKBA-certified or member logo, notes Hollie M. Ruocco, CKD, owner of Creative Kitchen Designs. "You will know they will be a professional company. They follow a code of ethics. Almost like the BBB." A member can tell you "whether the business is good or not" as well as "who is in your area and who can do what for you."

This is a big benefit that consumers should take full advantage of, she notes. If you need someone to work on your kitchen, don't "just walk into anyplace," she warns. Take even more effort when choosing a kitchen designer. "You should want a designer who has had the training, experience and who is certified. Don't waste your time with someone who doesn't know exactly what they're doing." Many consumers have no idea about the training and certification that goes into becoming a designer, Ruocco notes. "What's a CKD?" is a question Ruocco gets asked a lot. It means she is a Certified Kitchen Designer – a designation that requires extensive experience in designing residential kitchen spaces, in-depth testing and meeting annual continuing education requirements. She laughs and says, "I worked hard for that!"

Even before starting a project, your local HBA and NKBA can provide information and tools to help in the planning stages. For example, at their websites, find tips on how to choose a builder and a remodeler, how to begin the search, and what to look for and what to ask. Also, get informed about industry trends, products and services.

At-A-Glance Benefits to Consumers

HBA

Great source for hiring a builder or remodeler: Visit your local home builders association website to search for a member in your area.

These associations produce shows and events that greatly benefit consumers, including the annual home shows, preview of homes, and parade of homes.

All contractor members are licensed by the state of Alaska.

Members gain continuing education through meetings and classes, as well as certifications for various specialties within the home building and remodeling industries.

The associations are politically active in lobbying at a local and national level in building and construction industry related issues.

The Anchorage Home Builders Association (AHBA), for example, has a weekly radio show interviewing a variety of people involved in the construction industry on AM 650 KENI talk radio, Mondays from 12:30-1 pm.

Visit the National Home Builders Association site at www.nhba.com for tips and trends – from building to buying a home to home remodeling and many other topics.

NKBA

Great source for hiring a professional to remodel your kitchen or bathroom: Visit the Alaska Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association at www.nkbaalaska.org to search for a member in your area.

Visit the National Kitchen & Bath Association's website at www.nkba.org for consumer tips, including kitchen and bath guidelines, inspiration galleries, and much more. If you're just getting started on a remodel, the group's free kitchen and bath workbook quizzes you to help determine the scope of the work needed. It includes a pocket for storing fabric samples and photos of rooms you like. When you consult with a designer, this "homework" will help you express your wants and needs more clearly, making it more likely you'll be happy with the results.

NKBA certification means that a designer has a certain amount of experience in the kitchen and bath industries and is also required to know kitchen and bath trends, clearances, codes, best practices, and has passed a rigorous national exam. All certified professionals must keep up with changes in the industry through continuing education programs, such as those offered at the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference.

* Grayling Construction contributed to this article.