Some of the biggest laughs that I get during my speeches occur when I show examples of ludicrously bad construction, such as a porch that juts out over railroad tracks or a door in which part of the bottom was jig-sawed away in order to accommodate a toilet installed too close behind. Yes, these are over-the-top cases, but I suspect the audiences have seen similar enough cases that these pictures hit home.

In fact, 20% of NAHB members reported in one survey that they’ve been hit with claims of defective installation or workmanship, while 34% have experienced warranty or callback claims. And in 83% of the former cases and 51% of the latter, they’ve ended up getting legal help.

Those claims and callbacks stem in part from expectations that our homes should be safer, healthier, and more energy efficient than ever before. Codes and customers demand it.

That’s where you come in. I’ve long argued that what you know matters more than what you sell. Your construction supply store is the community’s center of expertise on housing. You know the climate, the builders, the inspectors, the codes, and the techniques. Perhaps most of all, you know the products.

And builders know it. Last July, The Farnsworth Group polled dealers nationwide about this subject. It turns out that 29.3% of the dealers surveyed said they recommend specific brands in at least three-quarters of their meetings with builders, and another 43.5% recommend specific brands in one-half to three-quarters of their encounters. As for introducing a new product, 3.3% of respondents said they did it in at least three-quarters of their meetings with construction pros, while 23.9% did so in one-half to three-quarters of their exchanges.

Other surveys have shown that when builders and remodelers hear about a product, one of the first things they do is ask your opinion.

That bond between what you know and what you sell helps explain why ProSales strives in its twice-weekly newsletter to list every new product that we hear about as well as every new distribution agreement. It’s also why every print issue of ProSales contains a Product Monitor section in which we summarize developments in a category. And it’s why, once a year, we devote our entire feature section to new products; you'll be seeing this year's articles start to appear in the coming days.

Your community is counting on you to be the experts in all aspects of residential construction. We’re glad to help.