The various professionals who can and will assist us and provide good advice in improving our homes include architects, designers, builders, remodelers and landscape professionals. To ensure that the systems in our homes are kept safe and in good condition there are many service professionals including plumbing and heating specialists, electricians, and those who service our appliances and any other systems we have in our homes.
When it comes to decisions regarding the design or construction of our home, we are safer to use the expertise and experience of a professional, rather than going to a well-meaning, but uninformed friend. When it comes to trying something new, most of your friends or other casual advisors won’t really know how it will work, so they will probably advise you to not go ahead. This unfortunately limits creativity and progress. And of course, you will never know if the new idea would have worked.
When it comes to getting professional advice, it is critical that you let your adviser know all the facts of the situation; otherwise even the professional might lead you astray. Of course, anyone who is a real professional will strive to get all the relevant data before giving their opinion. Unfortunately I have seen too many cases of that not happening. What I often see is the casual advisor looking at only one aspect of the total picture. Often that aspect is the price. All too often people end up choosing the “low bidder” and are usually sorry afterwards. Unfortunately, there are just too many instances of unprofessional contractors giving low-ball pricing and then cutting corners to make up the difference.
Another aspect of choosing a professional to work with is to understand the differences in professionals. Although someone may be a professional building framer, that does not mean they are qualified as an electrician. Someone who is an excellent handyman will most likely not be qualified to do a remodeling project or build a house. I recommend you keep those differences in mind when selecting the professionals to listen to and to work with.
I am often told by my clients that they can’t understand how others can price their projects so low. Usually what we ultimately discover is that the other contractor is not really qualified to do the project and often does not have the proper licensing or insurances. We have often heard the advice of going for the lowest bidder, as in the recent case of a home owner’s financial advisor recommending they go with the low bidder. The advisor’s reasoning was that they could do the project over if they weren’t happy with the outcome. Unfortunately this advisor did not consider all the other ramifications and potential issues that could and probably would arise based on that decision. As we all know that is a recipe for disaster and a prime example of not looking at all the facts.
Even though it is important that we ultimately make our own decisions, we all recognize that there will be times that we may want to seek outside help. In doing so, there will often be conflicting opinions, so it will be important that you make sure all the data is available to anyone you consult and that you ultimately make your own decisions. When it comes to prospective clients seeking advice, the best you can do for them is to ensure that their advisers are also fully informed.
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.