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It’s forever been said that experience is the best teacher.

When it comes to learning new products, tools and materials, the people at Family Handyman wholeheartedly agree.

Every year, Family Handyman informs and influences millions of do-it-yourselfers—from homeowners to contractors—by creating and sharing stories about smart home improvement. A lot of what they share is discovered through their own trial and error—tinkering, testing and trying something unfamiliar.

It’s easy to repeat the same habits that have been used with success for years. Ask any builder, architect or designer and they won’t deny it. There’s a certain comfort there. A confidence not easily shaken. But staying in comfort rarely expands one’s skill set or potential. Embracing an unfamiliar product can, but it requires both years of experience and a willingness to be inexperienced. “You need to be that new student who doesn’t know anything,” Nick Grzechowiak of Family Handyman told us. “If you approach every new or alternative product with the same experience taught by previous products, you often miss the valuable differences of the new item.”

One of those new products Family Handyman got their hands on was Vesta Steel Siding®, a steel planking system inspired by the sleek aesthetic and weather-tight performance of shiplap. Bold and brave, this siding inspired the Family Handyman staff—professionals in construction, woodworking and remodeling—during one of their most ambitious projects—the Getaway vacation home.

We recently asked Family Handyman how they select new products and what encouraged them to take on a full home build for the first time ever.

Testing alternative products always teaches us something about building materials or construction methods or the needs of the market. We appreciate that learning.

Nick Grzechowiak, Family Handman

What Is the Value of Trying an Alternative Product and What’s The Value for Contractors?

We test products often, and we learn something each time. Sometimes our work with a product we’ve never experienced before might just affirm our appreciation for a different product. You might not know how good a product is until you test a similar one. And we often find products whose manufacturers did their research into materials and the marketplace and they built something better—a tool or item that can save us time and money. Either way, testing products always teaches us something about building materials or construction methods or the needs of the market. We appreciate that learning.

How Valuable Is Finding the Right Manufacturing Partner When Trying Something You’ve Never Used Before?

Even with years of experience and a diverse team of professionals, we call on expert resources regularly. Finding and working with quality partners helps us serve our audience with the latest and most trusted information. We know we can’t do everything or know everything.

Can You Tell Us More About the Getaway Home? What’s It Like?

Our Getaway took shape on a plot of land about two hours east of Minneapolis near Weyerhaeuser, WI. It’s on a no-motor lake, offering maximum peace and tranquility. Building an entire house was a first for us, and it was unique in media today. It wasn’t a quick makeover or a showcase of some luxury build. We went through the building process and created stories and videos to highlight what we felt was important as projects, tips and product guides. By taking the time and doing things right, we created a unique way of delivering building information to our broad audience.

Who Was Involved in the Project and What Were the Goals?

The Getaway vacation home was designed by a team made up of our editors—including a building contractor licensed in the state—art directors, and an independent architecture firm. The team started with the goal of building a modern vacation home that would meet three goals. First, it had to be roomy enough for a family to enjoy weekends away. Second, it needed low-maintenance features. Third, we wanted a style that would fit the wooded surroundings while also letting us test alternatives to traditional products.

What Inspired You to do This Project in the First Place?

We know our audience is committed to enhancing their primary homes. But it’s no surprise they may be hesitant to build a second home because it requires a lot of time, patience and most importantly, good financing. We wanted to show millions of people how to create their own spaces, all without a mortgage or steep financial plan.

The Second Home Trend Might Be Here to Stay.

857k people say they’re likely to purchase a second home or vacation home in the next year, and 81% of people say investing for the future is very important.

“Home sales are on the rise across the board due to record-low mortgage rates and a wave of relocations during the pandemic, but demand for second homes is particularly strong as affluent Americans work remotely, no longer need to send their kids to school in person and face travel restrictions.”

— Taylor Marr, Lead Economist at Redfin

No matter the obstacles you face in the building process, you can get through them with clear-headed planning.

Nick Grzechowiak, Family Handman

Can You Tell Us About Your Experience with Vesta Steel Siding®?

Knowing that steel siding is gaining popularity, mostly vertical corrugated panels, we chose Vesta Steel Siding®. We favored the look and design of this steel lap siding product that can be installed vertically or horizontally, and it had a permanence we couldn’t find with other products. Plus, it had an organic look that fit with the woods around the home. The materials cost more, but its install—similar to vinyl—went quickly, so we saved on labor.

During the Build, Did Anything Surprise You Along the Way?

No matter the obstacles you face in the building process, you can get through them with clear-headed planning. We faced obstacles with people, materials, workmanship, weather and more. And we succeeded with the project in spite of all that. Yes, the production calendar will take a hit, and your budget might, too. But you can get through any obstacle with open-minded flexibility.

For Family Handyman, Not All Products Make the Cut.

The staff at Family Handyman takes the evaluation of new products seriously. Because when 1.1 million subscribers and national newsstand readers trust your opinion, you can’t be winging it. Their evaluation process involves asking four main questions about every product being considered:

  • Performance: How well does it perform?
  • Value: Are you getting what you paid for?
  • Reliability & Durability: How well does the product perform over time?
  • Ease of Use: Is the use of this product intuitive? Is it as easy as it should be for the intended user?

About Family Handyman

Family Handyman is a media producer that creates and shares stories about smart home improvement. Using their website, print magazine, project videos, newsletters and education courses, anyone can find building projects, repair and remodeling tips, product reviews and inspiration for their DIY lifestyle. Learn more at

Learn more about the Getaway

Visit to find all the projects, techniques, materials and furnishings Family Handyman used, as well as expert guidance on how you can build a vacation home of your own.

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