By Lorraine Hart, Ideal Consulting Services
Most people who have done a remodeling project and have not been totally satisfied with the result or the experience have something in common. They focused on the wrong thing. Unfortunately when the focus has been the price rather than the dream, the project just doesn’t measure up.
In preparing for your remodeling project, I suggest that you focus on creating your dream for your home, rather than focusing on price negotiations. Keep in mind that this renovation, whether small or large is something that you may be living with for years to come. You certainly don’t want to have any regrets or wish that you had done it differently. The small amount that you save now may not be worth it in the long run. By communicating with your prospective remodeler, together you will be able to make your dream a reality.
To establish a good working relationship with your contractor, honesty is needed on all sides. It is best to share not only your needs and wants for your renovation, but your restrictions as well. Unfortunately I often hear about the broken relationships caused by lack of information from the beginning. In order for a professional to create a sound, realistic plan for your project, it is important that they have some idea of your budget. I know that many of you will resist this, however I want to point out that it is next to impossible for anyone to create a project plan and proposal unless they have some idea of your financial limitations.
It doesn’t have to be the exact amount of money you can afford, but you need to give some parameters to the remodeling professional. This will guide them in developing the project and selecting materials. A professional remodeler will be able to give you various ranges and you can choose the range that will be most comfortable for you. Otherwise the prospective contractor is hampered in determining which way to go. If the project is too low-end you will be disappointed because it doesn’t have all those things which you want included. On the other hand if it is too high-end you stand the chance of falling in love with something that is just not affordable. In either case you both lose.
Another area to address is that of free estimates. We all see ads for free estimates, but most of us don’t know what that means. What it should mean is that the potential contractor will meet with you to get an idea of what home improvements you are interested in. Once the scope of the project is loosely defined, the contractor can give some ball park ranges. A free estimate does not mean that the contractor will create a design, or do a design analysis and feasibility study. That is beyond the scope of a free estimate. Professionals deserve to be compensated for designs or anything that requires significant analysis.
By selecting a contractor that will do a professional analysis up front, you will ultimately save time, money and aggravation. By getting all the questions answered up front there will be fewer surprises and fewer change orders.
By focusing on creating your dream rather than just negotiating price, both you and your remodeler will win.
Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting. Ideal has been providing business consulting, coaching, and training of small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. Lorraine has been writing and managing content for numerous organizations for over 25 years. She is a national member of NARI and contributor to its national blog. She is also a regular contributor to Remodeling Today and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. On top of all that, Lorraine is also a member of the GHBA, the Remodelers Council, Custom Builders Council, and the Bay Area Builders.