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The Internet has become a very powerful tool to help people navigate their daily lives.

It can be used for everything from exploring medical symptoms to getting design inspiration for an outdated work area or even an entire home. Overall, the Internet has helped inform and guide consumers.

A byproduct of this easy access to information is that home design has been fundamentally altered. While architects, designers, remodelers and general contractors used to make recommendations on materials to home buyers and homeowners, now the consumers are armed with their own knowledge that they have sourced from the Internet. That raises several key questions. First and foremost, in today’s environment, who is more responsible for specific features being incorporated into a living space? Are consumers pushing their designers, remodelers and contractors to use a certain material or element? Or are the designers, remodelers and contractors pulling consumers in a particular direction?

The best answer is that it’s a little bit of both.

The Internet helps consumers find elements they want to prioritize in their living space. For example, someone interested in designing home office, theater room or a quiet space within the home may be interested in finding sound-proofing elements to put up barriers and block out external noises from infiltrating the space in question. That consumer is likely to search the Internet for acoustical doors and other sound barriers, and may find specific products that he or she likes based on online descriptions and reviews. The consumer will then inform his or her designer, remodeler or contractor that they should incorporate the specific product into the home.

 

But designers, remodelers and contractors also do a substantial amount of recommending themselves. While consumers can seek out knowledge on the Internet, designers, remodelers and contractors either have a professional base of knowledge about the element in question – in this case, sound barriers – or a network of manufacturers they can call upon to get a professional recommendation. Even if the consumer does not specifically express desire for sound barriers, the designer, remodeler or contractor can make the suggestion based on their professional experience and understanding of the function of the room in question to suggest options that will limit the amount of noise that may pass from one area to another.

Even though ultimately it comes down to a little bit of push and a little bit of pull, it is worth noting the drastic change from how remodeling used to be. Before the Internet, most residential customers had limited access to the sort of information that they needed to make a judgment on what elements to include in their home. With the Internet, they now have the ability to play a significant role in the specification process by asking their designers, remodelers and contractors to use a specific product or element.

Steve Orlowski

WDMA Sr. Director, Standards & Technical Activities

For more information about high-performance windows, doors and skylights, please visit WDMA’s informational web site: www.openuptoperformance.com.

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