Monday, May 9, 2011


A remodel coach isn't just good for the client. Here's how a coach can help contractors. I worked with a coach on a large project in January and it was an awesome experience. I absolutely loved working with her and as a contractor who's been around a long time I'm really good at communicating with the homeowner but it was way easier working with a "liaison" as it were. I also love being the coach/liaison between homeowner and contractor. I'm up for anything that makes the process of remodeling easier and a "relationship that works for all".

A coach teaches contractors how to interview prospective clients so that they only take the very best rather than continually taking clients that they have red flags about or, out of desperation they may feel about having to get a job. A coach helps negotiate a clear contract that lays out, in total clarity, the details that pertain to their particular job and discuss the change order possibilities with homeowners so the job runs smoothly and according to schedule. The biggest area a coach helps contractors in is preventing disputes with the homeowner by being honest and open about the money and mess of home improvement.

One of the worst nightmares for a contractor is a customer who continually asks for work to be changed or redone and has no concept why that would cost extra money. Some of the main concerns for contractors include homeowners who:
• Don’t pay on time or continue to haggle about what is due
• Look over their shoulder and hang around constantly
• Asking a series of questions without allowing work to proceed in a timely manner
• Request work to be done without permits
• Try to get contractors to do more work and not want to pay for it
• Try to renegotiate the price after the job has been completed
• Change their minds, followed by constant complaints and nit-picking

If you feel like a potential customer is a “red flagger”, don’t try to get out of the job by overpricing it. Simply say “Thanks, but no thanks.” It’s OK to say no to a potential nightmare. It’s really about choosing a homeowner that’s the right client for you and bidding jobs properly so that the cycle of under earning and, therefore, not making a profit stops. I encourage you to show up for yourself and earn the money you deserve and the respect you are worthy of.

There is much to be improved around this topic of remodeling nightmares and being part of the solution is the only thing that will contribute to the healing of this industry. Remodeling on purpose is a two way street. When contractors are running a profitable company and paying both themselves and their employees, they are running a business-on-purpose. When homeowners are open and honest about what they desire and come clean about their expectations they are initiating a relationship-on-purpose.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Does Your Project Really Cost?

We've just finished a large job in Pasadena, CA and are set to begin another on 3/28/11.

I had a conversation with my lead foreman yesterday and he informed me that there are signs at one of the vendors we use that states "due to world events materials will be going up" or something along those lines.

Well, we should not be surprised since gas is around $4/gallon. It would stand to reason (I'm not sure who's reason) that most things will be going up in price.

We will work with it and include it in the cost of doing business, however, since we already had several bids out I had the presence of mind, following this discussion, to send an e-mail that if anyone wanted to do the work we'd bid on - even though it may not be until May - get a contract signed and at least allow us to purchase materials now prior to costs going up so we can keep our bid where it stands rather than having to raise the price in the next couple of weeks.

If any of you are thinking about doing a project and have a bid check with your contractor to find out how long this bid will be honored. Don't think for a minute that if you call in May, or for that matter, in April (right around the corner) that the price won't be higher. This may cause you to not be able to do the work at all.

The project we're starting on 3/28/11 - we got a deposit and my lead foreman is purchasing materials by week's end for this project as well as one we're beginning 4/1/11.

Stay on top of this communication. Don't be vague and expect things to stay the same. Even if the price stays the same, once the contractor goes to buy materials, they may find that the costs are such that they have to come back to you for more money.

This is one of the things that causes a remodel nightmare. Don't let that happen to you. This is one of the ways a nightmare CAN be avoided.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love What You Do and.....

I’m so loving what I do right now. As much as I know exactly what I’ve done or not done to contribute to my own economy, I also know that what’s going on or has gone on “out there” certainly has affected my business. Well, I’ve held strong and been patient, not always with grace, knowing that as I continued to know and believe that this all came to pass - it would (pass that is). It has.

At the perfect time I got the most amazing referral and the best client for a rather small job. That job has turned into a major remodel because the crew and myself went into the job with new eyes. We see it with much more gratitude and well, love, than we have in a very long time. I will also say, my crew has so "upped" their game. It's a pleasure to watch.

What I’ve discovered is, we do, indeed, get complacent. When things are rolling along as we think they “should” be we tend to not be as grateful everyday as we can be.

I will also say that it has been my being willing to look at life and my work-life with new eyes and a different attitude. What a difference it makes. Not only in the earning but in the joy of going to work everyday.

I’m so thrilled, not only to be earning myself, but to be living in the solution of what being self-employed means to me - putting others to work.

To know that I’ve contributed to my own increase in earning and put 12 - 15 people to work as well as suppliers and the city where I get my permits makes me know it’s all been worth it.

There’s a bigger story here as with all of us but for now I’ll simply say, keep on keeping on, hang in there and know that better is around the corner if you practice gratitude for life and trust that whatever it is that doesn't always look so good came to pass. Pass to what is up to you. It can be more of the same of way better than you could have imagined. My choice, door #2!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mark Up & Profit

Contractors, I highly recommend (once you’ve moved through my program and gained clarity with where you presently are) Michael Stone’s Profit & Mark-up along with some of his other books. Visit his website at

Michael’s 10 cardinal rules for contractors are:

1. You shall return all phone calls within 24 hours
2. You shall keep ALL appointments, and be on time
3. You shall present yourself to your customers and the public in a professional manner at all times
4. You shall keep your ego in your pocket
5. You shall interview the customer to see if they qualify to buy from you, not if you qualify to sell to them
6. You shall get written quotes on all items that exceed $300 on your estimate
7. You shall determine your correct mark-up and use it without fail.
8. You shall honor your overhead budget at all times, and not spend otherwise.
9. You shall continue your education on a daily basis.
10. You shall take a fixed salary from your business each month.

Homeowners, this is how a contractor will run a business on purpose and you would be wise to check out Michael Stone’s site,, for more insight into how a contractor “ought” to run their company.

Monday, February 14, 2011

7 Commandments to insure a Dynamic Remodeling Experience

Business is always booming somewhere, sometime, some how for someone, it might as well be you - Mark Victor Hansen
1. There is no glass ceiling on your life. The only ceiling is your own limitations.

Be willing to get yourself out of your own way and stop putting limits on your success and your company’s growth. I specifically gear my discussion to contractors; however, these ideas really apply to homeowners as well by giving them an insider view of the bidding from the advice I give contractors. It’s simply that I’ve been in the home improvement industry for over 25 years and know what an obstacle I’ve been to myself so from personal experience - I know of what I speak. Homeowners can be one of the biggest obstacles to a good experience as well.

2. Follow your heart and find your life’s purpose. Demonstrate kindness in all that you do; impatience has no rewards.

If remodeling isn’t your passion, find out what is and do that. I say this from a place of absolute knowing that if you do not love the business of home improvement you will not be able to authentically exercise the patience you need when the rubber meets the road. Not only must you have patience but you must be able to be kind when it comes to “standing up to” a client’s (sometimes) unreasonable demands. Purposeful Remodeling is the only way to achieve the rewards this industry can present to you.

3. Honesty is always the best policy if presented in a loving way. Seek first to understand; if you want to be heard, you must first actively listen.

This particularly applies when you are presenting a bid that you know is higher than the other bids your potential client has received. If you know the bid you’ve presented is exactly what it’s going to take to do the job well and bring an excellent experience to the table, you must be honest about that. You must also remember that listening to their concerns, especially around money, with an active ear is what will help you communicate truthfully about why your cost is what it is.

4. Remain a “target out-of-range.” Insults we hear are not about us – it’s about “them, their fears”.

If you are sitting before a potential client who talks about how bad contractors are or what a horrible experience they’ve had in the past, that is not about you. I would suggest, however, that you really “put your listening ears” on for this interview as you may decide in the long run that they are simply not the client for your company. That is absolutely OK because if you feel that way during the interview process pay attention to what is (most likely) a red flag.

5. Empower those around you to do great things. Set them up for success.

What I mean by this is, listen to the homeowner and ensure them you want this project to be a success as much as they do. Pay attention to their needs and hear what they might expect from you as the contractor. Make sure you discuss those needs and expectations so you set the entire job up for success. This definitely serves you in the long run because you are all about serving them first.

6. Develop a sense of gratitude - for your own good.

Bring a sense of gratitude to the bidding process; gratitude for being able to be of service. Let them know how much you look forward to working on their project (if you feel it’s a good fit). This lets them know you love what you do and aren’t only in it for the money. That happens you know?

7. Learn how to be joyful by doing things that bring you joy, and by being with people who bring you joy.

If you aren’t happy taking on this particular client (if they’ve chosen your company) you won’t be happy during the remodel. If it’s a long project is it really worth whatever the monetary pay-off might be? I will tell you from experience, it’s not. This is the type of project where nothing seems to go right and feels very chaotic; less than joyful if you will. This is NOT the way to come to work every day or get referrals because, trust me, if you feel less than joyful so does the homeowner.
Can’t wait to get started?  Enjoy a booming business and great remodeling experience in 2011 - you deserve it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Lead Paint Law - what's up?

Here's a portion of an article from the Wall Street Journal 5/10 written by SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN.

Contractors and other professionals who work on building renovations are worried that a new government ruling aimed at protecting against the risks of lead-paint poisoning will add another financial burden to their already distressed sector of the economy.

As of late last month, businesses that repair or renovate older buildings—specifically homes, schools and daycare centers built before the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in housing in 1978—are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adhere to strict lead-safe work practices. To comply with the new regulation, those working on older sites will need to invest in lead-testing kits, plastic sheeting, respirators, protective clothing and other lead-safety materials.

At least one worker involved in such projects will also need to become certified, at a cost of $300 every five years, and pay out-of-pocket for eight hours of training. Those who don't comply could face fines up to $37,500 a day.

Renovation activities that disturb lead-based paint can create hazardous lead dust and chips, the EPA says. The agency—which estimates that 87% of homes built before 1940 and 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978 have some lead-based paint—launched a public-service campaign last month to warn consumers about the hazards of lead-paint poisoning, which can lead to nerve disorders, high-blood pressure and memory loss.

The new law went into effect in April, but the hazards of lead-based paint have long been known and many businesses have been taking precautions to protect against lead poisoning since the late 1970s. Sarah E. Needleman

I'm all for being more aware of and excersing more care when renovating a property which has lead based paint, mold or asbestos, however, the fines are really exhorbitant as you will see below.

You certainly can make the decision to not follow the guidelines but is it really worth getting a fine of this magnitude? I think not. My lead foreman has gotten the certification and we are working within the guidlines called for as far as paint prep goes.

It will raise the cost of a paint job simply because of the prep needed and the fact that if someone lives in the home the job-site must be cleaned every day and all new plastic, hazard suits, etc. are required at the beginning of each new day of work. I'm educating all of my clients and anyone who calls for a bid. I'm not taking any chances on getting a fine and it's simply time to not take any chances with our health.

Will the fines come down or, if one gets caught, be this high? Who knows, but not worth testing it to me.

Do your own research and make sure exactly what's going on with the paint in your home and that the contractor painting is certified, or not. It's your choice. I've heard that the homeowner could get fined if they choose to hire an uncertified person but I've not found any evidence of that so make sure before you go the less money route.

Again, it's all about clarity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


A remodeling coach is a person with experience and extensive knowledge in the home improvement industry and offers customized teaching and mentoring to homeowners and contractors. Remodel coaching is a unique service designed to help bridge the communication gap between homeowners and contractors empowering both to navigate the challenges of home remodeling projects.

A coach acts as an intermediary between contractors and homeowners as a way to prevent remodeling nightmares.
Coaches help homeowners figure out what they want in a renovation, set a budget, compare bids, choose the right contractor, create a work/payment schedule, and shop for materials and supplies. Once a project starts, they can stay on top of the schedule, monitor the quality of work and act as a liaison should any disputes arise.
Unlike many contractors who are moving between jobs all day, a coach has the time to discuss a homeowner’s plans, suggest alternate and sometimes less expensive materials and designs and explain why things cost what they do. Most contractors are so busy they often do not take the time to answer homeowners’ questions as specifically as necessary, walk them through a project or offer suggestions about how to do something better and possibly more economically.
Perhaps most importantly, a coach can help save a homeowner’s time, money and sanity. Paying for a coach can be far cheaper than ending up with a project you aren’t happy with, or a job that doesn’t get finished because of an unresolved dispute. Remodeling nightmares do not have to happen. A remodeling coach will bring them to an end and ensure a positive remodeling experience for everyone.
One of the worst nightmares for a homeowner is a contractor who continually doesn’t show up daily and doesn’t communicate effectively. Some of the main concerns for homeowners include contractors who:
• Don’t write clear, easily understood contracts.
• Continually add charges to the job with no explanation.
• Aren’t available for questions or conversation.
• Want to do all work without permits and don’t discuss why permits are or are not needed.
• Leave a messy job-site.
• Want money when it’s not due.
• Want to do less work than the original bid/contract calls for.