Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What’s it really all about?

When you hear the stories of a remodel gone wrong and how bad the contractor is do you ever wonder if there’s another side to that story?

Well, there is. I’m not saying that homeowners are the “bad guys”, in fact, I’m saying there are really no “bad guys” at all. We must stop placing blame as it solves nothing.

I am simply saying there are two sides to every story and in between there is the truth. I coach both homeowners and contractors to look at remodeling as a relationship and bring to the table open, honest communication. This is where the solution lies (and begins).

Once you understand that communicating is key then the work of the remodeling project can begin. Get money and mess on the table early and when it comes up mid-job (as it will) it will not be as difficult to address because you’ve already laid the groundwork. Think solution-based rather than nightmare-based and you can create the remodel of your dreams.

I come from a place of remodeling on-purpose. This means: the client gets a complete job based on the contract they signed at the beginning of the project and has fully understood all changes and possible delays throughout the process (if there were any); the contractor walks away with a satisfied client, all monies due paid and referrals.

Doesn't this sound good? This is a win/win scenario. However, keep in mind, I'm not saying it won't be dirty, frustrating or have delays happen; I'm saying that if clear, open communication happens at the very beginning it can be a win/win.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are you a good fit for each other?

What both homeowners and contractors must both remember is this, not every homeowner a contractor interviews is a good client for them and not every contractor a homeowner interviews is a good fit for them. That is why it’s preventative “medicine” for both parties to talk to a coach and get clarity about “are you right for one another”? Hence, the dating phase of the remodeling project that’s coming down the pike.

Keep in mind when you’re interviewing contractors, they “should” also be interviewing you.

As I’ve said, this is a relationship, not just a remodel. It would stand to reason, then, that both sides would be interviewing the other. This is the time to develop good rapport (indeed, is good rapport possible).

For a long time it has been assumed that it is only the customer who has a choice in the hiring process.

I want to be clear that this is absolutely not so. Think of it as a date – each party is “checking out” the other. This is the time to develop good rapport (indeed, is good rapport possible).

Since there is really no continuing education for contractors provided by any of the states (that I’m aware of), it is up to us to educate ourselves not only on the aspects of building but of running a business as well.

Remodeling Magazine is one of the best magazines in the remodeling/home improvement industry. It is for industry professionals but homeowners have access on-line at www.remodeling.com

In September of 2002 there was a Q & A with several contractors on Just Saying No – How to turn away a client you have reason to suspect may be difficult. Particularly in these economically challenging times (and, really, anytime) if either party feels the relationship isn’t a good fit, say no.

It’s never a good thing to waste time, money and, particularly, emotion on entering into the “wrong” relationship.

I would encourage each of you to be courteous enough to let the contractors you do not choose know that you are not choosing them. They’re taking the time to come and meet with you to bid on your project – they like to know what’s going on with you as well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Seven Tips for Hiring a Contractor

#7 Did the estimate compare favorably to others?

I’m not talking about looking for the cheapest price. It’s definitely not about finding the contractor who gives you the lowest bid. To the contrary, it’s about the experience you’ll ultimately get. You want to know that the contractor you are hiring is going to give you the most bang for your buck. When you are comparing bids you want all the inclusions and exclusions to be the same so that you can decipher what you are going to get and for how much. Base your decision on the contractor who you feel suits your needs best.

Be willing to give up making it about the money only who cutting the best deal. You may find that the contractor bidding "in the middle" IS the best deal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Seven Tips for Hiring a Contractor

#6 Was the estimate on your project returned quickly?

OK, you’ve made your calls, scheduled your bid and now you are waiting to see exactly what the contractors come back with as far as price.

If, indeed, the contractor is preparing a thorough, written bid for your project, it will take anywhere from 5 - 7 days, depending on how extensive the project is.

It takes time to show all the subs the plans and gather those bids. Make sure they are clear on the timeframe you can plan on to receive a solid, written bid back from them.

If it is a smaller, less involved project such as interior painting, the bid could come back as soon as 2 days. Again, make sure you get a timeframe from the contractor as to when you can expect the bid.

This is the clarity in communication that's so very important.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seven Tips for Hiring a Contractor

#5 Did the contractor respect you and your home?

This is when I begin to discuss how you feel about the contractor. It is really a very important question when you think about it. This is the dating phase of the project. If you are dating someone and you don't develop good rapport during dinner on the first date - do you believe you'd actually marry that person? Same thing with the estimating process of remodeling (the dating phase). You don't want to get married (sign a contract) if you don't have good rapport. Pay attention during this process.

If you feel as if you’re not being listened to because the contractor is in a hurry or doesn’t ask you any questions that particular contractor is probably not going to be a good choice.

If you feel you’re being heard and you feel good about the contractor, this could be the beginning of a “good fit” relationship and an awesome "marriage".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seven Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Tip #4

Did the contractor ask pertinent questions?

When they came to your home for the bid did they initially ask exactly what you wanted?

If you’re calling for bids on a kitchen remodel, did they ask if you had plans? Are you completely gutting and re-arranging the space? Have you looked at tile, appliances and your finished product?

What’s important here is, are they coming in and getting a sense of your vision or “creating” a product that’s their vision?