Big Box Home Improvement Store Scorecard

A comprehensive study of 2000 consumers who shopped and made purchases from Home Depot, Lowes and Menards Big Box stores in 2006 has just been completed by Minneapolis, Minnesota based building materials research firm Market Resource Associates, Inc. (MRA)

Consumer respondents had to shop in at least 2 of the chains to qualify for participation and were not paid anything for their cooperation. The out-bound telephone protocol was administered to 56 markets within the 48 contiguous United States between July and October of 2006. The markets and resulting quotas were selected based upon housing activity in 2005. Further, the results of this latest study were compared to results from the same study undertaken two years ago.

In the 122 page comprehensive report, the 3 competitors are rated on 29 different product categories to determine which types of consumers shop for which types of materials at which chains. The 3 chains are also rated against 11 very specific attitudinal criteria. These criteria include but are not limited to:

,,« The store is the absolute best value for my money

,,« The store is the place I get the most useful help when I need it

,,« The store values me as a customer

Also studied was¡K which chains do consumers enter and in which do they actually purchase? In this regard, Home Depot has slipped; Lowes and Menards have improved over the previous study. In fact, Menards is the highest rated chain for the entered / actually purchased category. When consumers go to Menards, they know and find what they want. Slippage can be caused by consumers not finding the items they were looking for, as well as not being able to find assistance from store associates, among other reasons.

As lumber and related items tend to define the Big Box home improvement chain, a loss was noted at all chains in the number of lumber purchasers from the 2004 to the 2006 studies. Home Depot had the largest decline, followed by Menards and then Lowes.

In another category noted for larger projects ¡V rough electrical ¡V Home Depot lost over 40% of its previous purchasers, to Lowes losing 23% and Menards experiencing no change.

One must ask if consumers are becoming less involved in larger projects where these two product types would play a heavy role, or are they seeking other venues for their purchasing? Generally, as the housing market declines, which is true of many areas studied, larger Do-It-Yourself projects flourish as homeowners tend to add on or fix up their existing homes. This is not seen as the case from the data presented.

Home Improvement Stores Make Repairs Easier

If you own your home, anytime repairs are needed or you’d just like to make some home improvements, the responsibility and the expense is up to you. Renting on the other hand can be less of a commitment, since the landlord owns the property it is their responsibility for making any needed repairs.

Depending on the type of home improvements you want to do to your home, you may need to take out a second mortgage or a loan. It can be expensive even when only small repairs are needed.

There are a large variety of home improvement stores to choose from when looking for materials. Checking around and comparing prices can save quite a lot of money on home improvements. You must choose your products carefully though, sometimes the reason products are cheaper is because the quality is lower.

Three Of The Largest Home Improvements Stores

With over 40,000 products and a long history Lowe’s home improvement stores carry almost anything you need. They have a very nice selection of kitchen cabinets, doors, indoor and outdoor lighting, high quality appliances and much more. And, they offer the convenience of special ordering if the perfect item is not in stock.

With their wide selection of building products, most large stores have everything you need to add an addition onto your home. From paints to bricks you can usually purchase all the products you require for any project. From adding a room to giving a room a whole new look a Home Improvement store can take care of all your needs.

If you live in certain areas of the U.S you may be close to a Menards home improvement store. Opened in 1960 and known as a place to “Save Big Money”, Menards is a family business were customers are number one.

Well known for their high quality merchandise and lowest prices in town, Menards has a well stocked store to meet all your home repair or improvement needs. As a extra little feature to help you with any improvement project you might have, in store computers are provided to let you design your project.

Whether you just need new floor or wall coverings, new kitchen or bathroom cabinets, or your current appliances need replacing, Menards home improvement stores can offer you choices. Besides the huge inventory of building materials they carry, some of the stores now offer a grocery section too.

If you’re just wanting to change or update the look of the outside of your home, Sears home repair offers installation of their premium vinyl siding. Since 1995, they’ve been supplying customers with replacement windows and doors, garage doors and among other services they can even reface your old cabinets to make them look new.

If you need appliances for your home, you can buy those from Sears home repair. They carry a large range of different styles and colors. They also offer the service of doing the work for you, by installing cooling and heating units and water heaters, for example.

Most of us now have computers in our home. They offer the option of browsing different online stores and finding the exact products we need. Home improvement catalogs can also be requested from both Sears and Lowes enabling you to order items for home delivery or prepare a list of what you want before going to the store itself.

Many home improvement stores now offer services to help you with any project. Employees are often trained in helping you decide which product best suits your needs and the personal touches make the home improvement process much less complicated than it used to be.

The Best Home Improvement Stores

When you plan to carry out renovations around your house the biggest question that arises is the quality of hardware that you intend using in the project. The dilemma that most of the people face at the end of entire home improvement exercise is better and cheaper hardware available just a block further from where you did all your purchases.

This really breaks the heart. Whatever time, effort and money that you have already spent in making your home a better place to live seems like something which still needs further improvement, and the entire credit goes to your lack of proper research before you conducted your mission.

The best way to go about this is to organize a bit before you start your project.

1. To begin with, first decide what you have to do and how much you can spend on it.

2. Secondly, remain flexible on the quality and design of the hardware that you intend replacing or constructing. Look around and ask people regarding different qualities and designs.

3. Find out which is the most popular and which is the cheapest. In most of the cases they will be the same. Then also look at eh best and the most expensive model or design. This may be expensive in the store that you are visiting but chances are that you might find it at an affordable price somewhere else.

4. When you have found out the market prices of your required items go to the world’s best and the biggest home improvement stores which are located inside your own living room. This is the internet.

5. Surf around with the specifications and the brand names that you had liked and find the best and the most expensive ones available at the throw away price. This bargain price probably will not be available at the store near your town, but will get it delivered to your doorstep faster than you can imagine.

How to Effectively Use a Home Improvement Store

There are far too many people out there that are afraid to ask for help when they are purchasing materials that they have never bought before. This is why home improvement stores can be a great way to get all the information you need whether you choose to purchase from there or not. When the home improvement store employee comes up to you and asks if you need any help make sure to leverage their expertise. After all, they see hundreds of customers every day that have the same questions that you do.

When you are looking for specific design advice or when you want to learn how to use the materials to do it yourself, make sure to ask an employee that looks experienced. In general, the older the employee the more likely you are to get a thorough response. Unfortunately, that teenage working at the cash register has probably never owned a house so you want to try and find an employee that has actual home improvement experience. Gray hair in this case is actually a very good thing.

Home improvement stores want you to buy their products so they often offer free do it yourself classes on weeknights. They will teach you things like tiling and putting in hardwood floors. Sometimes they even offer classes to teach you how to properly paint a wall.

You also need to keep in mind the layout of the store. There are so many cases in a home improvement store where you will need something small that would be in an aisle you would never have thought of. The employees are there to help so make sure that you use their services.

If you are doing something for the first time, do not just go in and pick up the materials assuming that you know what you are doing. Store employees are specialists and they will have the advice you need. If they are not able to answer the question, ask them who can answer your question. Likely there is someone in the store who has been around for a while that will give you the information that you are looking for.

Choosing Home Building Materials From a Home Improvement Store

To build a house, repair or remodel, you need home building materials and the right tools. With the material and tools available today, you can get your project done in less time and possibly for less money than you might have thought.

You can download plans from the internet. You can even customize them to suit your own tastes or to make the house of your dreams.

While you are at it, you could start thinking about how you would like your outdoor living area to look. You can do some virtual landscaping, just for fun.

Of course, right now, you need the basics. So, what does it take to build a house?

Lumber, nails, hammers and saws, planes, miter boxes and levels, measuring tapes, rulers and blueprints. Those are some of the basics. Drills, screws, siding, insulation, roofing material, doors and windows are some of the others, all these you can get from a home improvement store near you. But, the first two things that you need are a plan and a list.

Any experienced builder starts with a plan. A list of necessary items is made. A builder will often have many of the necessary tools already. You might have some of them, too. So, you take a look at what you have and then decide what home building materials you need. That’s part of the plan.

Another part of your plan is the budget. You will want to try to get an idea of how much all of this is going to cost. Depending on your experience, your estimate might not be exact. Even the most experienced builders come in “over budget”, sometimes.

You might be tempted to cut corners, if you have a tight budget, but you will save money in the long run by buying higher quality, more energy efficient materials. Skipping luxury items like more expensive tile or designer flooring is okay. But, your basic home building materials should be of the quality necessary to do the job.

Think about the future. If you buy a lower quality grade of lumber, you may need to replace it more often. It might not be resistant to insects or mold. Something like that could cause you a lot of problems and cost you a lot of money in the future.

Functionality is what is most important here. So, when you are comparing the material available and creating your budget, focus on the functional aspects. That way, you will get home building materials that last.

Home Improvement Stores – An Overview

Thanks to the popularity of home improvement programming on television, the last boom in the housing market and an influx of home repair magazines and media, the home renovation retail business is absolutely thriving. After watching how-to design programs on television and reading how-to articles in design magazines, homeowners are rushing out for paint, lumber, wiring and anything else they need for their next weekend project.

Another factor contributing to the surging interest in DIY home improvement are the costs of labor and contractors. As the expense of hiring help goes up, homeowners are increasingly likely to take on a project themselves, thus sending them to their local hardware retailer to stock up on needed supplies.

These same local hardware stores have gone from small shops to major, national retailers with huge chain networks. Examples of some of the larger home improvement stores include Lowe’s Home Improvement, The Home Depot, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire, Ace Hardware, Do It Best and Fred Meyer. These retailers can be found almost all over the United States and continue to expand into Canada, Europe and Asia.

The Best and Biggest Home Improvement Stores

As the largest in the country, The Home Depot is the hardware retailer of choice for the United States. Headquartered in Georgia, The Home Depot employs over 350,000 people and operates over 2,100 stores all over the world, including China. Second only to Wal-Mart for retail power in the United States, The Home Depot is the giant of home hardware supplies.

Lowe’s is the second largest hardware and home renovation retailer in the United States. Focusing their business model on service, Lowe’s takes aim at retaining a local store feeling. The Lowe’s chain began in North Carolina in 1946 as a single store and now operates over 1400 stores in the U.S. The chain is looking to expand into Canada and Mexico.

Another competitor that focuses on customer service and local emphasis is The True Value Company. By concentrating on quality service and extensive how-to programs, True Value is attempting to win over customers from large competitors like Home Depot or Lowe’s. True Value is also unique because it operates as a cooperative, meaning it is owned by its members. Essentially, it is a member-owned wholesaler and therefore is often able to deliver lower prices.

Finally, there’s Ace Hardware. A leader in global sales, Ace Hardware is also a cooperative, meaning most of their stores are owned and operated by a local dealer who owns a financial stake in the larger company.

Why Not Buy From an Online Home Improvement Store?

A home improvement store is a place where you can buy home appliances, lumber, tools, lawn mowers, paint, brushes and everything that you need for your latest project. You may be used to walking into a traditional warehouse, walking around until your feet are tired, asking for help and still leaving without all of the items that you need. Why not try something different?

Thanks to the internet, you can download a project plan and order all of the items that you need to complete it, without ever leaving your desk. Think about what you want to do the weekend before you plan to do it. Create a budget, if necessary and place your order.

With three day shipping, your items should begin to arrive a few days before your planned project. You can check out the packages after work and be sure that everything is as you ordered.

You won’t have to worry about driving to a home improvement store early Saturday morning, along with hundreds of other homeowners. You can get started early and be done in time for Sunday dinner.

Some people still worry about ordering over the internet. They think the shipping will be expensive or their personal information might not be protected. But, when you go to buy home appliances from a traditional store, you will find, in most cases that the item needs to be ordered anyway. There will be delivery charges that could easily exceed the cost of shipping.

If you try to buy home appliances and then pick them up yourself, you risk injury. You will also have to pay for gas and if you don’t have one, you might need to rent a truck for the day. So, there are many advantages to ordering online. You just need to think about it.

Today’s online home improvement store provides every item that you could get at a traditional one. The customer assistance and advice is there at your fingertips.

The better online stores provide advice about measuring for and selecting an appliance. If you have had to buy home appliances in the past, you probably had to deal with a salesperson. If you want to talk with someone online, you can. But, you can make your selections on your own. Since there are no salespeople to deal with, your prices are lower, because there is no commission.

Better Shopping With Online Home Improvement Stores

There are so many reasons why consumers prefer to do online shopping when it comes to home improvement projects. Imagine the hassle that comes with having to physically visit the store, browse through their many products and supplies, line up to purchase them, and then load them onto your truck to take all of those bulky products home with you. Imagine just how daunting that task can be! Fortunately, with the advent of online home improvement stores, such as Lowes Home Improvement Store, you do not have to go through all this burden any longer.

Plus, there is just so much good that can come from shopping from online home improvement stores. Imagine how convenient it would be to just click your mouse from item to item. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about having enough cash on your person because online home improvement stores allow you to use your debit or credit card. Of course, you would have to worry about paying the items that you buy off, especially when you choose to use your credit card. Still, there is much convenience when you do not have to have enough cash at the moment.

Another huge advantage that these online stores have over the physical stores is the fact that the items you purchase are delivered right to your very doorstep. Yes, this feature might be offered by physical stores, but this may mean extra charges for delivery. With online stores, however, delivery is almost always offered for free so there just might be no need to worry about such charges anymore. This way, the only budgeting you will prepare for would pertain to the items that you need to buy. And when it comes to effort, the only effort you would have to exert pertains to the projects themselves.

One common worry that discourages customers from doing business with online home improvement stores is that they are worried that the stores would not have the merchandise that they need. Since it’s an online store, then you cannot expect it to have all the supplies you need, right? Wrong. This is because even the huge stores in the market have joined the bandwagon already when it comes to operating online stores. As mentioned above, Lowes Home Improvement Store has already opened its online store for its customers. Home Depot is another store that has realized the advantages that come with online shopping.

Home Improvement Stores – Finding the Best Ones

Once in a while, it becomes necessary to visit a home improvement store. Even the most beautiful wallpapers, in time, become old and faded. Then they become tedious to look at and instead of complementing the beauty of the room, they annoy everyone who comes into it. Likewise, rugs become thinned out by constant treading and by vacuum cleaning. The colors and the designs of floor tiles become rubbed out and the flooring itself may begin to crack and warp. The same maintenance measures are even more important for the garden. Grass grows fast. Trees get bigger every year and decorative plants need to be trimmed in their place in order to keep them in neat and beautiful shape.

Home improvement stores also provide means to doubly secure you against burglars and other intruders. Safety features may need to be built into portions of the house that pose a danger for the kids. Fire systems, anti-burglary devices, security locks, shelters and many other features are needed to make the home as safe a place to stay in as possible

Home improvement stores also allow us have a great deal of comfort in the home. That’s the reason why we need to have good heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, as the need may arise. The same goes for water-proofing the basement or installing sound-proofed walls to maintain the peacefulness for the people living in the house.

Additionally, besides refurbishment and comfort, we need to consider the repairs that need to be made in the house. Sometimes, additional structures are needed in order to add more space inside the home.

Before starting to do some home improvement project, it is advisable to consult with people who know. There are home improvement stores in your neighborhood or on the internet. These have customer support people who are ready to answer you questions and furnish solutions to your problems. In addition, these stores will usually be stocked with a complete line of anything you may need for home improvement.

Before you actually start looking in home improvement stores, it is good to know what you are looking for. There are online web stores that feature customer reviews for the products on their catalogues. If you browse through the customer reviews of a certain product, you need to keep in mind that bad reviews may not necessarily mean that the product is bad. They may simply mean that the quality control department of the manufacturer is not up to whatever they should be doing. The reason why you need to go through product reviews is to find out what you have to be careful about in buying a certain product and to get yourself familiar with the features of each product.

When and if you finally decide to buy, remember, you can start your purchase on the internet but it is always better to check out the real item in the live store before purchasing it. That way you don’t need to worry about replacement for a damaged or wrong-item delivery.