Self Build And Renovations Show Review Mar 2010

The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show is the UK’s largest Self Build and Renovation exhibition in the UK. This specific exhibition, which is located at the NEC, is the largest of several versions that tour the country this year. At the NEC it was in Hall 5 and comprised over 450 exhibitors. We visited the exhibition on Friday, the second of the four days and, arriving mid morning, found the hall very busy.

All of the exhibitors we spoke to said that the exhibition had been busier than they had expected with many individual and small building projects underway. There seemed to be few ‘tyre kickers’ and the enquiries were genuine.

From our point of view there were three distinct areas of interest. These were Mechanical Ventilation & Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems, solar hot water generation and storage and low ‘U’ windows and doors.

There were two seminar streams running in parallel all day and a series of Masterclasses in another theatre. All the presentations had decent audiences and the sound distribution was good ensuring that, despite the openness of the seating arrangements, the presentation could be clearly heard.

We sampled just one of the ‘Masterclass’ presentations but skipped the various seminars so as to make best use of our time.

Most of the stands were busy at this time and the reception warm. The encouraging nature of practically everyone we spoke to was noticeable. Sometimes, for example, it was clear that the company we were speaking to were located too far away to be of direct service, but they nonetheless spent some time giving some advice and guidance.

We had spent some time before we went using the show website to identify the companies we should try to see. It was amazing what a high percentage of exhibitors had failed to provide any information for this website other than their name, stand number, address and area of speciality. When you consider the cost of exhibiting this simple piece of oversight is mind boggling. Some provided a link to their website, which was better than nothing, but still is a sloppy approach.

We took a short refreshment break around 2pm and then continued our rounds. There was now a noticeable difference from the morning session. The aisles were less crowded so it was easier to get around and the people on the stand seemed rather jaded. On a couple of stands we had to ask staff who were just standing around for help. On another stand the two exhibitors were far more interested in their iPhones than in exhibition visitors.

The organisers recommend that you arrive with some outline (or detailed if you are in an advanced stage) plans and ideas. This puts you into a good position to discuss specific points with exhibitors, or indeed some of the available experts in specialist areas. We certainly found that it helped a lot to have a photo or two and simple drawings together with some key figures or dimensions. In our case it was the overall floor area and volume plus a couple of key linear dimensions.

In the end, was the visit worth all the effort? For us, it was. We had specific things we wished to see or learn and succeeded in almost all. We learned that our overall plans were all quite feasible and also learned that the outline budget we had was in the right ballpark. Several hints and tips were received, some of which will be reported in other parts of the main blog.

Would it have been useful if we were in the early stages of planning a build or refurbishment? Again the answer is yes. But in this case the principal benefit would have been from the seminars rather than the exhibition itself – and the bookshop where you could browse a relatively small, but very well targeted, collection of helpful books.

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