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October 27, 2011

Improve the "Remodeling Estimate" Experience - part 2

This is the second in a series of blog notes on how to improve the experience of the "remodeling estimate" for remodelers and homeowners alike.

What should you expect at the initial meeting between remodeler and client at the project home? What are the goals and next steps? As mentioned in the previous entry, preparation is a must to maximize time and make the meeting fruitful. Available time is at a premium in today's society, therefore professionals should create scenarios to be thorough, succinct, and efficient.

We often liken the first face to face meeting as a "blind date." Each are not certain what they will find and how the "date" will go. Remodeling-wise, the following are what each party should do and seek to achieve the best experience.


  • Have the project site as clear of clutter as possible for the remodeler to easily inspect
  • Let the remodeler take the lead and control the pace, order, and flow of the meeting - the remodeler should follow a prepared outline based on history and experience
  • Having prepared a list of questions, hold them until the end to ask
    • many may be answered during the natural course of the presentation
    • however, if at the end you are left with most of your seemingly reasonable questions unanswered that may be an indicator of the experience level of the remodeler
  • If applicable, provide the remodeler with pictures, web links, addresses of other local homes that help portray your vision
  • If possible, for any project affecting exterior size, shape, positioning, ground coverage...etc., have a current copy of your property survey to give to the remodeler

remodeling estimate
  • Show up on time, organized, and prepared with a meeting agenda planned
    • Make a professional first impression - you and your company will be evaluated with great scrutiny in the opening minutes
  • Ask good, relevant questions as many homeowners might not know what to ask or say
  • Be a very good listener, don't just wait for your turn to talk
  • Be observant, there are many unspoken clues that will reveal much about the home, family, and lifestyle .  This will help create the best possible project.
  • Do not ignore or under-value children, pets, and/or visitors as they will most likely also be impacted by the potential project
  • Take good notes, either written in a pad or recorded
  • Where applicable, have professional tools ready for inspecting, measuring, and picture taking

Optimally, these things should get achieved, or at least introduced, at the initial meeting:
  • Project profile analysis of homeowners, family, and home
  • Project scope discussed as a "wish list"
  • Options for phased remodeling over time and in priority order
  • Options for scaling back the wish list
  • Detailed budget and investment ranges illustrated, discussed, and customized
  • Discuss payment schedule plus funding and finance options
  • Calendar time frame for design/development, pre-production, and project duration displayed and agreed upon.
  • Next meeting date established
  • Determine the action tasks for all parties to be completed before the next meeting

Here is a YouTube slide-show video that illustrates how one remodeler prepares a homeowner before the initial meeting -

The conclusion of the meeting is just as important as the start. Before departing, determine what the next actions will be for both parties, agree on time frames for accomplishing, and schedule a next meeting if warranted or desired by both. Many of the blind dates end with, "Goodnight, I'll call you." This leaves the other party subsequently wondering - "Are they interested? Should I call them? How soon??"

Be honest, if you feel the other party (homeowner or remodeler) is not the right fit, communicate that information clearly at this initial meeting or at any point that it becomes evident.  It will save everyone time and alleviate potential anxiety.

If any homeowner or remodeler would like a copy of Design Build Pros' "12 Steps to a Professional Remodeling Sale" outline simply request via email to:

This outline was created as a result of the Design Build Pros staff having personally held thousands of these remodeling estimate first meetings. The process continually gets refined and adjusted to remain relevant. We hold annual Homeowner Advisory Council dinners to thank clients for past projects ordered an to have a round table discussion to discover new and better ways to improve the process to deliver the most pleasant and professional remodeling experience possible.

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