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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:
http://tinyurl.com/T-1Estimate
http://tinyurl.com/T-2Design

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

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