Checking contractor references over the phone is easy enough, but getting an up-close look at completed remodeling jobs can be a challenge. No matter how pleased with the work, most homeowners don't extend a standing invitation for strangers to come by and see it.
Fortunately, some are willing to offer a weekend invitation. Though not as common as tours of new homes, scattered-site remodel tours open to the public are becoming more popular. Held during spring, summer and fall, the remodel tours last from one to three days and showcase from four to more than 90 projects. Tickets typically cost about $10 or $15; part of the proceeds sometimes goes to charity.
Keep in mind that most of the featured projects will be expensive, high-end remodels. If all you need is a new sink, this is not the way to find a contractor.
Tips Before the Tour
In addition to a list of addresses, the more established tours offer descriptions and/or pictures of each project to help you decide which ones to visit.
If no map is provided, take the time to map out the sites before leaving home.
No eating, drinking or smoking will be allowed inside the homes. Leave pets behind, too.
Be prepared to take off your shoes or wear the provided disposable booties at each home.
If possible, find a sitter for the kids.. The homes may not be accessible to strollers or child-proofed.
Clues to Quality
If you're actively looking for a contractor, take some time to inspect the quality of the products and of the work. Don't let yourself be dazzled by all the new stuff: look for the details that can be easily overlooked at first glance but affect functionality and long-term satisfaction.
Sealing around windows, doors, counters and fixtures
Alignment of tile on backsplashes and floors
Location of countertop seams
Convenient outlet placement
Transitions between the kitchen and other rooms: treatment of walls, floors, ceilings
Plumb, square walls; except in old homes, which may require a little fudging to cope with settling
Though not comprehensive, our listing includes many of the most popular and longest-running remodeling tours from coast to coast.
American Society of Interior Designers San Diego Home Remodel Tour
Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines Tour of Remodeled Homes
Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky Tour of Remodeled Homes
Home Builders Association of Louisville Tour of Remodeled Homes
Washtenaw Country Home Builders Association of Washtenaw County Remodelers Home Tour
Minneapolis and St. Paul
Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase
Rochester Area Builders Remodelers Home Tour
National Association of the Remodeling Industry Remodeled Homes Tour
Home Builders Association of Lincoln Tour of Remodeled Homes
Greater Greensboro Builders Association Tour of Remodeled Homes
Building Industry Association of Central Ohio Showcase of Remodeled Homes
Home Builders Association of Metro Portland Tour of Remodeled Homes
Master Builders Association Remodeled Kitchen & Bath Tour
Master Builders Association Remodeled Homes Tour
Master Builders Association of Pierce County Tour of Remodeled Homes
Building Industry Association of Clark County Remodeled Homes Tour
Milwaukee National Association of the Remodeling Industry Spring Home Improvement Showcase
Metropolitan Builders Association Fall Remodelers Tour