Attending in Sweatpants: The Virtual 2021 International Builders’ Show
A pre-show primer on the first-ever online IBS trade show. Stay tuned for upcoming podcasts, product features, and more.
The International Builders’ Show® (IBS) bills itself as the premier, once-a-year event that connects homebuilders, educates them, and generally improves the residential construction industry. For the most part, I agree. In years past, I attended the IBS. I ran into colleagues from all over the USA, attended education sessions, and improved my knowledge of what’s happening in homebuilding. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IBS goes virtual from February 9-through the 12. I’m not sure how well it will work.
I remain open but skeptical that IBS will offer as much virtually as it has in person. For one, I’ll attend the show in sweatpants and at my kitchen table. This hardly compares to hours of walking the exhibit floor, running into old friends, seeing products that spontaneously caught my eye. It’s that cool, accidental discovery made in a remote corner of the hall that I look forward to in a show. This time, I will have to sift through a list of exhibitors and look for specific products to click on.
However, the educational sessions look promising, and this part of the program may go just as well online as in person. I have attended many webinars this year, taking advantage of the pandemic to catch up on training. It’s been a valuable investment, and I suspect the same at IBS.
Many of the speaker topics announced center on the new real estate trends for a pandemic, such as showing homes virtually and at-home health and wellness design. This last item has become significant for homebuilders, as homeowners of every price range require home offices, media-friendly living rooms, and bedroom gyms.
Specific classes that I plan to attend include “Outdoor living,” which is a major trend in pandemic times. “Designing for health and wellness” – what does this mean? I’ll let you know after class! And how could I resist “Pants optional,” about working from home? Some more conventional offerings center on “Authentic curb appeal,” I’m a sucker for great exteriors. “Great floor plans under 2,500 SF.” And “Single-family built for rent,” something that has built wealth for me, and I like to advocate for all homebuilders.
There’s even a course on “Pandemic project management.” I’m not sure what this means or how it’s different, but, again, I will let you know!
IBS offers pre-show exhibits for the working press, which I will attend to home in on the displays to visit. I will structure my reports to include one show highlight, what I learned in class, and a daily trade review of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and structural innovations. I’ll also visit the offsite models. I’m often too caught up walking the show floor to venture out of the venue and take a bus to tour The 2021 New American Home and The New American Remodel. This year, it’s only a click away in a virtual setting, so I am sure to make the tour.
Although life will slowly settle into a new, more normal, normal post-COVID, I bet the experiences of 2020 will resonate for years to come. The ideas that designers and building professionals bring to the virtual IBS may provide valuable insights into fundamental post-pandemic homebuilding. We’ll see.
If there any products, issues, or educational topics you’re curious about, I’d be happy to attend, look into it, and report? Just jot down your questions in the comments below.
Should you go, you can obtain tickets here: www.buildersshow.com
Please do share your experience in the comments.