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February 28, 2011

How expensive is FREE in home remodeling?

Other than advice, a remodeler should never give a homeowner anything for free. Doing so potentially lessens the value of all you do and opens the door for constant negotiations, and even worse, re-negotiations of established costs.

Please do not misunderstand. This should not be confused with the concept of "under promising and over delivering." Let's face the facts. There is no one that works for free. Each person and trade gets compensated for their efforts. This compensation is a part of your job costing and affects a project's gross profit if not accounted for when calculating the client's investment amount.

However, not doing or providing something for free doesn't necessarily mean charging money, but there needs to be a value exchange. What you receive in return may be a personalized recommendation letter, a video testimonial, an introduction to a few neighbors...etc. While these extras may not get recouped in the project cost, what you get in return helps create additional business and will offset some marketing costs.

Furthermore, if a client asks for something extra and you provide it without getting anything in return, often the client feels that perhaps they didn't ask for enough. They wonder if there may have been more product, service, and/or discount available from you. Plus this can add an air of distrust. They may ask themselves, "What would have happened if I didn't ask for..."

In conclusion, set up a program and build a client relationship that is mutually rewarding, fair, and equitable for all parties involved. 

February 1, 2011

Botched Projects: Who is to Blame?

Unfortunately, in these past few years of poor economic times, we have seen and heard of increased numbers of botched projects and poor remodeling experiences. Whether the shoddy workmanship comes from an unqualified contractor or an inexperienced homeowner, a.k.a. Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY), upon further inspection we discover that frequently the problem begins well before the work actually starts.

In the estimate gathering process, the homeowners, who typically have no life experience in purchasing the remodeling project at hand, are faced with ultra-professional remodelers as well as the lower echelon of the industry. The former will portray a process that is a great advantage to the homeowner while the later will lead with the virtue of a very low price. The quandary begins. The low price is as tempting as low-hanging, forbidden fruit, but the homeowner's level of expectation has been raised by the education provided the ultra-professional. This divide leads to either the client settling for the low price or deciding to perform the work themselves.

The low price comes with a charade, played by all parties up front, that the process and project will be quite similar to the one depicted by the ultra-professional sans the lofty price tag. As the project progresses the "hidden" extra costs rear their ugly head and the warts of lower quality work appear. At this point, halfway through the journey and one foot in quicksand make turning back rather difficult and very costly.

Being wise to this potential dilemma, leads many homeowners to the DIY option to keep the costs as low as possible while hiring someone they trust - themselves. Today, scores of homeowners take this route, frequently fueled by the notion that the renovation is not that daunting of a task. Where does this come from? Courtesy of the many home improvement shows aired on cable TV that depict projects done by other DIYs, with allusions of an unrealistic investment, and completed in a 30-minute episode. Do you also wonder what happens during the commercials?

With this new residential remodeling pattern, we have changed the focus of our initial consultation to act as an industry advocate to inform the client of how the process should be viewed and addressed from concept to completion on their part. We also offer a low-investment, detailed design and development service for a homeowner that can be used as a reference and guideline to enhance their decision process even if we are not the remodeler for this particular project. This information often acts as a safe-guard so they can quickly and easily recognize the short-comings of the low-priced remodeler that is either inexperienced, unqualified, or a wolf in sheep's clothing looking for prey.

The two following links illustrate our initial meeting process and then our design and development services:

We invite comments and remodeling project experiences, both positive and negative.