On our latest podcast episode, we welcome Jan Burchett the Executive Director of Kansas City’s National Association of the Remodeling Industry, NARI, to our show. Jan has been the Executive Director for over 25 years, and she not only knows the ins and outs of the remodeling industry, but she knows all the movers and shakers in Kansas City. If you have a question about remodeling, Jan is your go-to.
We reference NARI a lot with our clients and in our marketing. Can you explain what the National Association of the Remodeling Industry is?
NARI is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It’s a non-profit trade organization. So not like a charitable organization, but on the other side, a trade organization. NARI has its headquarters in a suburb in Chicago, and there are 36 chapters across the US all focused on the professional residential remodeling industry.
The Kansas City NARI chapter has a vision and a mission and is the premier resource for the remodeling industry and its consumers. Its mission is to support member-focused education and encourage business relationships. They are there for the professional remodeling industry with educational programs, networking events, social programs, anything, and everything to get people together to benefit the professional.
It’s a great organization with amazing members and volunteers. Our members don’t see another contractor or another subcontractor as competition, they see them as a valuable asset to get to know. To share business solutions to share business problems. The adage is that there’s plenty of business to go around.
When searching for or selecting a contractor to work on your home why is it important if they’re a NARI member?
While NARI focuses internally on its members, they also have a focus on the consumer. It is their goal to always educate the consumer about the remodeling process. How to hire and why you should hire a professional. Why you shouldn’t hire Chuck In The Truck who doesn’t have insurance.
Experience and expertise are so important. Make sure who you hire has the correct license. When you hire Chuck In The Truck who doesn’t have insurance and his big ladder goes through your beautiful bay window in the front of the house. If he doesn’t have insurance to pay for that damage, you may be out some money. Their insurance protects both your home and your pocketbook.
Make sure your contractor pulls the correct permit. Sometimes you’ll hear consumers say, hey, I’ll just pull the permit myself. Don’t do that! That’s a liability that the homeowner will take on if they pull the permit for their project rather than having the professional contractor pull it.
Finally, make sure that they listen to you and do what is best in your interest, not just in the interest of them making money. There are so many people in this industry and some of them are part-time and some of them are full-time. Some of them change their company name often, which is a big red flag.
You should hire a company that does this for a living. They have a passion for what they do. NARI members tend to love what they do. They love remodeling. They’re not doing it just to pass the time and get a paycheck. They’re passionate about it.
NARI also ensures its members abide by a code of ethics. Their code of ethics is pretty broad and general. It talks about being honest in advertising and sales promotion, writing contracts, and warranties. This code of ethics is important to the NARI organization and for other companies and consumers to know that a NARI member pledges to observe a high level of honesty, integrity, and responsibility in how they conduct their business.
If you want to find a NARI contractor, how do you go about doing that?
NARI has 36 chapters in the US from the West to the East coast, and North to the South. NARI also has members at large, meaning a company that is a NARI member but not close enough to a chapter to be a chapter member.
Remodelingkc.com is a great resource for homeowners. You can find a local NARI member for your remodeling needs, see REMY award winners, and learn about local events. They also have resources for remodeling and things you may need or should consider.
Members are listed by specialty so if you’re wanting to remodel your kitchen, you would type in kitchen remodeling. If you’re interested in a window treatment, you’ll type in
What is a NARI certification and why is it important?
The NARI certification program is a national program. It is an amazing program for members who want to take that extra step. They want to say I’m a Certified Remodeler. I’m a Certified Lead Carpenter. I’m a Certified Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeler. I’m a Certified Universal Design Professional. I’m a Certified Remodeling Project Manager.
You form a study group either in-person at your chapter level or online on a webinar that takes anywhere from an 8 to 12-week class. Once the study session is completed you take a written test. The certification is held by an individual rather than a company. Individuals must just maintain their certifications.
The remodeling industry is a little bit of a rollercoaster ride, especially in the last 15 years. Can you tell us where we are today in the Kansas City market?
We’re at the top of the rollercoaster and we’re excited. So, the industry has seen a lot of ups and downs. Back in 2007, 2008, 2009 it was a tough thing for the home building industry, but also the residential remodeling industry. The companies that survived, that thrived. They had to work really hard to survive that, but they thrived. NARI did lose some members because they went out of business.
And then it got crazy and COVID came and this industry was an essential business, so the industry didn’t have to shut down. That along with everyone being stuck at home brought in a higher demand for remodeling. Suddenly people couldn’t travel and they wanted to create an outdoor living oasis or remodel their kitchen.
With the increase in demand came shortages both in labor and materials. Before appliances may have taken a few weeks for delivery now you’re looking at three to six months. And then the price of lumber has gone sky-high. We believe all these things will come back down and return to some sort of normal but perhaps no time soon. They’re projecting that 2022 may likely be another tough year. Hopefully, by 2023, we’ll be back to normal, whatever that means. If your contractor tells you they can start tomorrow, that’s a red flag because they don’t have enough work to keep them busy. Realistically in today’s world, your contractor may say, I can get to your kitchen in January.
The biggest thing that a consumer should do is their homework. Think about what you want to change in your house. Go look at products in showrooms. Think about who you want to hire. Find a NARI member, ask the neighbor, asked the relative, who did you use? Why did you like them? Why did you not like them? Do your homework and then be patient because it’s not going to be a quick, overnight remodel.
Labor shortages aren’t new to the industry but it seems exacerbated this year. What has KC NARI done to help alleviate that?
In 2016, NARI started the Futures Fund, which is a charitable foundation. It’s an arm of the Kansas City NARI chapter, specifically focused on workforce development. The goal is to raise money to give it to local construction trade programs at the high school and the community college level.
That money can then be used to help those construction trade programs with material purchases, safety equipment purchases, the ability to send some of their students to some training field trips.
Additionally, NARI is sending people into the classroom to tell folks this is a great industry. And if they’re not ready for college or are uncertain what their future is, this is a great industry to be in. And NARI has success story after success story of folks that did not go to college or tried it and didn’t like it, and now they are very successful in a company or they’re business owners.
It’s a great industry and there’s a lot of on-the-job, hands-on training. And it’s a great place to grow a career. NARI’s Workforce Development Committee and the Futures Fund work with the local school districts to try and tell the story and tell kids.