[Note: To follow is an excerpt of an interview with William Carter, CR, CKBR, first vice president for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and owner of the Carter Carter Company in Sacramento, California. To listen to, or download the show archive MP3, go to www.IncomePropertyInvestmentTalk.com.]

Mosca: Why is it important for real estate investors and property owners to know about the National Association of the Remodeling Industry?

Carter: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry, with over 100,000 individuals and more than 7400 companies, is the only organization in the nation solely dedicated to the remodeling industry.

Mosca: What questions should an investor ask a remodeling contractor during the interview?

Carter: My approach is to interview the client and at the same time hopefully they're interviewing me. I want to find out exactly what their needs are, what their budget is, and from that we can determine the length of the project. When you're dealing with a NARI professional contractor, they have a business structure, salespeople, project managers, and field crews. They can handle jobs start to finish without any delays.

Mosca: How important is it to lay the groundwork and figure out costs and length of time ahead of the project?

Carter: Every job is different. Without a thoroughly designed set of specifications and parameters and a budget, you're going to get back different scenarios. We want to ask the client upfront exactly what they're trying to achieve in the project and then down the list of key points, pressure buttons and then construct the job from that.

Mosca: Is there a remodeling project that enhances a particular piece of real property more than the other?

Carter: You get the most return on a good kitchen and on bathrooms. They get the most use daily and are functions of life we can't deny. From there, you can move into great rooms, outdoor kitchens, and other areas where larger families and people looking to redo their house for the first time will be looking. I like the wow factor because when you walk into a piece of property with the client and you watch for their reaction, you look for the pupils to dilate.

Mosca: Outdoor work seems to be a major trend right now, why?

Carter: Sixty percent of net worth is in real property so you're finding a consolidation of recreational and family events now around the home. If you look at what it costs today to put a gallon of gas in your car, what it costs to go to the movies, what it costs to eat out, a lot of people are staying home. They are putting in media rooms; outdoor kitchens and are living more on their property.

Mosca: How important are the three "R's:" repair, rehab and remodel?

Carter: Number one is repair. The minute your property starts going into a decayed state, you're losing value. You must keep it up. Rehabbing and remodeling get sort of clustered together.

Mosca: What are some of the other investments that hold or increase the value of property?

Carter: Think green and look at HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, and high-efficiency appliances. These improvements will keep the costs of living in line in the future.

Mosca: Any last thoughts?

Carter: Remember the old adage, if it's too good to be true it is. Take a knowledge-based approach to what you are doing and be realistic. Be open to communication and don't under finance a job.

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