Continuing Education

Lesson Plan: Peter Marx Talks About Home Remodeling 101

Peter Marx is a seasoned contractor who’s been improving the homes of other people for more than three decades and helping people pre-plan and resource their home repair and remodeling needs for Imagenearly as long. Unlike the many experience-based classes in Marx’s repertoire, Home Remodeling 101 is more about information and preparation. In this class Marx seeks to help the student put their home remodeling hopes, dreams and strategies into action with the assistance of a competent contractor.

Marx is as hands-on a contractor as he is an instructor. Many of his classes have a tactile component, what he calls his “props.” If he’s demonstrating how to install a switch plate in your home, each student is presented with their own plate, screws and tools to explore the process individually during his tutorials. Though Home Remodeling 101 is about looking at bigger pictures and bigger plans, Marx still insists on having his “props.” In this case, he starts off his class by showing students what a house plan looks like and how to use it.  

“Students primarily come to class looking to improve pre-existing features like the bathroom, basement or kitchen,” says Marx. “So one of the first things I do in the class is to show them what a house plan looks like and we discuss how their project fits into this plan. Hopefully I can give students a set of ideas for the project they’re thinking of.” Marx encourages his students to take their house and remodeling plans with them when they meet with their contractor.

Marx stresses Home Remodeling 101 is not a design class. Students will not be sketching out layouts or looking at cabinet and fixture options. Marx’s goal is for students to have a clear vision of how their house is constructed and give them to tools needed to convey the changes they wish to make to theirImage contractor. “When I ask people what projects they plan to work on, most tend to find my answers lead to more questions,” says Marx. “The better the information, the better the project. As they say, ‘Knowledge is power.’”

And knowledge is what Marx hopes students take home from his class, but not simply the knowledge of how a remodeling project happens, but how to seek out and enlist the skills of a qualified and reliable contractor. “The truth is there aren’t a great many strictures put on contractors. A person can become a licensed and bonded contractor for about a thousand dollars. There isn’t any quality control placed on their actual work. It’s not an assembly line.” Marx says students are often taken aback by this discovery. Marx also cautions relying too heavily on the feedback found on sites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor.com. “I simply question the veracity of those kinds of sites as they are ‘pay to play.’ Just because someone is duly licensed and insured, that’s not necessarily a reflection on their skills or competence. A good question to ask yourself is how do you hire a doctor or a dentist and why do you keep using them?”

In this light Home Remodeling 101 is not just about planning your renovation project, it’s about attaining the proper insight into how to hire the right person for the job. Marx encourages his Imagestudents to not simply research their own project, but past projects of their potential contractor, even if that means visiting locations and soliciting feedback from past customers. “People looking to remodel need to feel confident they’ve hired someone with whom they can not only cooperate, but collaborate.”

“I want my students to fully understand their project and successfully engage in the process from planning the remodel to hiring a qualified contractor,” says Marx.  “I hope to give them to the power to have a successful project and be happy with their investment because they’re going to be the ones living with the results.”

Learn more about Home Remodeling 101.