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Gifts that Make a House a Home

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Gifts that Make a House a Home

Inspiration in a nutshell. Here are the results of the Housewarming Gift Contest that Professional Builder held for its readers back in July. The online version of the article contains more information and all of the submissions we received. Enjoy!

By Mark Jarasek, Senior Editor August 31, 2006
This article first appeared in the PB September 2006 issue of Pro Builder.

Note Web Exclusive Content: This is a more complete version of the article that appeared in the September 2006 edition of Professional Builder. It presents the ideas how they were submitted to us and not re-written.

If a picture says a thousand words, then Shelia Rummel’s gift to her clients speaks volumes about how sincerely she appreciates their business. Rummel’s idea won Professional Builder’s contest in July to recognize the best housewarming gift ideas. The Professional Builder editorial staff selected the winner, who received a free pas to Benchmark, Sept. 26 – 29 in Lake Las Vegas.

Rummel, who heads her own business by the same name in Wilmington, N.C., presents new homeowners with a “brag-size” album and CD of professionally taken photographs of their new home’s entire interior and exterior, including an evening shot of the lit residence.

The runners-up wowed us, too:

The Winning Housewarming Gift Idea:
Picture Book

I sell custom new homes. I like to hire a professional photographer to photograph the entire interior and exterior of the home, including an evening photo with the entire home lit.  The photos are presented in "brag" size albums. A CD of the images is also included so the owner can email them to family and friends. The gift also works wonderfully for advertising when the family decides to move on.


Gourmet Wine & Dine
We recently completed a very nicely detailed home with an elaborate custom kitchen for a Doctor, his wife and young family. As you would expect the kitchen has all the latest appliances, which can be quite overwhelming and daunting to figure out their operation. We gave the client and evening with a chef to prepare a gourmet meal for themselves and six friends, as well as help them understand how their new kitchen works.

The chef met with them to discuss their menu choice and how many courses they would like to have served. The evening turned out wonderfully for all parties involved. The owners were able to show off their new home and our work to potential future clients as well as they were able to see how their new kitchen and appliances worked.

The chef, whose home and kitchen were reworked by our remodeling division, was able to generate work for his fledgling catering business. And we were able to thank multiple clients, network with potential new clients and possibly save questions down the road. We liked this idea so much that we are looking at doing this as standard practice on any of our high end home or high end kitchen projects.

A Touch of Tiffany
Atlantic Builders welcomes their new homeowners with a pair of Tiffany & Co. Wine Glasses and a Bottle of our own labeled wine from our local winery.The label is very unique in that it has a welcome note from Atlantic Builders, and a great description of the wine "Clairet" and how it is created and what it is best served with for your main course.

When you come to the doorstep with a huge Ttiffany blue" shopping bag and a large "Tiffany" box the homeowners are pleasantly surprised that it is not a typical basket of items that they may never use and that it is not filled with builder logo items. For those who do not consume alcohol; they love the glasses and use them for water during a special evening.

Step Tools

Step Stool and Tools

KB Home welcomes owners into their new homes with a stylish and extremely practical tool box/step stool. The familiar bright yellow colored tool box/step stool combo comes complete with a box cutter, hammer, picture hangers and nails, tape measure, pliers, interchangeable heads screwdriver, and under the removable tool tray you will find a caulking gun and caulk.

The lid firmly snaps into place and the tool box can be used as a convenient step stool perfect for hanging those pictures or putting away your dishes in your new kitchen.

KB Home prides itself in providing homeowners with a quality product, excellent customer service and a one-of-a-kind welcome home gift!

Disaster Master
We offer a CD-ROM based program that provides essential information to homeowners that will enable them to better protect their homes from sudden damage from fire, water, wind and more. We discuss options from routine maintenance, to design and product selections when building or renovating.

For most of us, our home is our largest asset.The information in this program will help homeowners maintain the value that asset, and in some cases, increase it… by incorporating materials, designs and practices that will better protect the structure from natural and man-made disasters.

The Homeowners’ Ultimate Guide to Mastering Disasters includes essential information that is organized in a way to save homeowners’ time and money.

  • Shows homeowners where to start; when to do what.
  • Includes a look-up feature: find a topic in the Index, then click to open.
  • Is easy to use: Chapter headings are listed on the left side of the screen. Click on any heading to go to that chapter.
  • Is an excellent reference tool.
  • Entertaining to use: fun visuals, conversational audio.
  • Excellent screen images to help reinforce important information.

Because we believe that The Homeowners’ Ultimate Guide to Mastering Disasters is essential to the safety of families, we have priced it at $29.95. We believe that our product will not only become an essential reference guide for homeowners, but will also offer suggestions to builders and remodelers regarding design and product selections that will add to the safety and value of their homes.

Mini-Me Model Home
At the closing, the Buyer is presented with a hand-painted miniature wooden model of their new home done by a local artist.  We have always received a very positive response to this gift.  Our company name, by the way, just happens to be Benchmark Traditions, LLC. 

Garden Care
One community from Pulte Homes gives a hose wrapped up like a basket.Included inside are a few items for gardening: weed killer, hand shovel, gloves and seeds.The homeowners absolutely love it and it looks really nice!

Watercolor Memories
We are setting up plans to present our new home or major remodeling customers with a framed water color rendition of their home. It can be carried forward to a future home, too, as a pleasant reminder of great memories at a previous home, or sent to college with a home-sick son or daughter.

Maintenance Tool Box
The best housewarming gift I ever received was from Calibre Company of Georgia (apartment/condominium general contractor in Atlanta).  It was a standard size tool box with the following items inside:  touch-up paint flat and gloss, paint brushes, spackle, picture hooks, flathead screwdriver, Phillips head screwdriver,  hammer and a how-to maintenance book.

Museum Members
The best housewarming gift we use is a family membership to the local history museum. We are fortunate to have an accredited regional history museum in Eau Claire, Wis.-- the Chippewa Valley Museum .This enables newcomers to find out about the community and its history and their place in it . It is a great connection to both the past and the present for people of all ages with special events and programs for all ages .It only costs $25-50 per family and also helps the Museum. I am sure that other communities have similar museums or historical groups which would work for others

Private Label Wine
We often give gift baskets with wine or sometimes just wine depending on the size of the remodeling project. The wine we provide has custom Zimmermann Associates, Inc. labels and is produced by a winery for us.

Cookie House

Cookie House

A real wooden doll house filled with chocolate chip cookies and milk chocolate builder's tools.The house can be personalized with the builders name on the front, and gift card enclosed.When the treats are gone, the doll house makes a great toy for the kids! (Apple Cookie & Chocolate Company, Turtle Creek, Pa.)

Christmas Any Time of Year
All of our customers receive their Housewarming Gift of a beautiful Poinsettia plant that fills a personalized steel & brass tub along with a custom photo Christmas card featuring their home's front exterior shortly before Christmas. After Christmas the tub may be used to cool drinks over ice at a gathering, hold firewood or as a planter. The gift always seems well received and has an added bonus of possibly spurring a conversation with visiting friends & relatives about BP Design Builders. It's a way to give something personal but not overdone.

Well Tooled
I am a home inspector and work with many first-time homebuyers.  I usually find out what tools and equipment they may have for home maintenance.  My presents are usually six-way screw driver sets, and/or tape measures, and/or my favorite is a “T” wrench also called a water meter key.  Most of the people buy old houses with creative plastic/galvanize/copper plumbing; leaks and breaks are a potential problem.  This is especially true when the homeowner wants to be proactive and do his own maintenance.  When I was many years younger, my wife and I bought older homes and I learned the “waterline-break” lesson; galvanize and plastic lines break when doing upgrades and remodeling.

I send them a basket with stainless steel clear or special cleaners for the product they have chosen along with recipes and/or a book for them to try on the appliances, a handmade jar with brownie mixture, and other odds and ends for the kitchen with a special thank you note.


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