In a study conducted by the Caney Group for the Home Improvement Research Institute, contractors were asked what outlet they use most to purchase tools, supplies and building materials. Wholesale distributors were shopped by 13% of general remodeling contractors responding, up from 10% in 2001 and 4% in 1999. Specialty supply houses, which focus on a specific category, were shopped by 10% of the general contractors, vs. 7% in 2001 and 5% in 1999. The number of general remodeling contractors who said they shop at warehouse home centers also increased, while fewer said they shopped at lumber and building material dealers vs. the 1999 study. Among remodeling specialists, 34% said they shop at wholesale distributors, vs. 40% in 2001; also, 31% said they shop at a specialty supply house, compared with 30% in 2001. Growth was also experienced by warehouse home centers.

When asked about their satisfaction with the various sources of product, 41% of general remodeling contractors and 44% of remodeling specialists said they were "very satisfied" with wholesaler/distributors. Warehouse home centers were rated very satisfactory by 24% of general remodeling contractors and by 30% of remodeling specialists.

While lumber and building material dealers declined in shopping preference with general contractors, they received the highest satisfaction ratings: 46% of general contractors and 50% of remodeling specialists said they were very satisfied with that source.

The study was conducted by phone with 1,503 full-time contractors: 500 general and 1,003 specialists. The report based on the study will be available only to HIRI members until June 2004, after which it will be available for sale. For information on HIRI, visit or call 813-627-6750.