Guest Blog: What Homeowners Expect Out of the Remodel Process

by Kacey Larsen

It goes without saying, of course, but trusting a home to a contractor can be frightening, especially for a homeowner coming in cold to the process. The vast majority of remodelling clients jump into a project without much research and select contractors based on quote, rather than how they communicate.

That means it’s up to you to lead clients through the process from start to finish. And due to the poor overall reputation of contractors, you’ll need to do due diligence when it comes to negotiations, pricing, and communicating responsibilities and potential issues.

A professional who can ease their minds
Homeowners just beginning the remodeling process for the first time often feel lost and overwhelmed. It’s difficult for them to estimate costs and timelines because they know so little about the kind of work a project requires. Meanwhile, unless you’ve worked together before, they’re likely wondering in the back of their minds whether you can be trusted — or if they’ll end up being the victim of another contractor horror story. And they may not even be clear on what exactly they want done — they just know that they hate their kitchen.

Gain a foothold in your client’s trust by offering them your credentials right away. When you meet for an initial consultation, you can ease some of your clients’ fears by doing the following:

●      Let them see your state license and inform them of any certifications you hold.

●      Let them know that you hold insurance for yourself and any subcontractors that work under you.

●      Offer to provide references. Homeowners don’t always know to ask for this, so providing it off the top makes you seem more professional and reliable.

●      Get clear on just how much they’re willing to spend. That will help you design the project in a way that will be satisfactory to you both.

That being said, however, a thousand positive referrals won’t make a difference if you don’t present yourself as positive and approachable. Always keep your conversations friendly, and your tone helpful and knowledgeable.

A listener who will hear them out
Any good relationship requires listening, but with clients, you often have to hear to what they are trying to tell you as much as what they’re actually saying. While no one expects you to be able to read minds, not every client will be able to express their needs clearly and effectively. A client may come in asking you to move a wall, for instance, because a space feels too cluttered, but may not be prepared for you to tell them that it’s load-bearing and can’t be removed. When you speak with your clients, keep your discussion goal-oriented, and provide solutions that work. Ask your clients why they want to remodel in the first place? What things about their space would they most like to change? In an ideal world, how would they like their homes to look and feel?

An honest business owner who will provide transparency

Transparency is crucial to the health of your business relationships. Do the legwork here and you may forge a lifelong working relationship with your clients. When you provide estimates, break them out to show the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and overhead. Likewise, when reviewing contracts, explain each section carefully and let your potential clients know their rights. How long do they have to cancel the contract without penalty? Do they have the right to refuse a hire in the event that a subcontractor is let go? What happens in the event of a disaster?

Help your homeowners understand what permits will need to be pulled and their part in that process. Walk them through the warranties on any materials. Provide clear communication from start to finish.

A protector who will watch out for their interests

While clients should understand that unforeseen costs and delays can arise in the process, especially if you were careful to inform them of any potential issues early on, you should do your best to stay close to your estimate. One way you can do this is to keep an eye on your labor costs — subcontractor hours are often responsible for project bloat. Each employee’s work should be evaluated throughout the process, and subcontractors should be held responsible for sticking to their quoted hours.

A communicator who will keep them informed

Communication doesn’t stop after the contracts are signed, of course. Take the initiative to provide regular updates to your homeowners as the project progresses, and tip them off to any potential problems as soon as possible. Let them know their options when issues do arise. Especially, warn your clients of any inconveniences as far ahead of time as possible. It’s massively annoying to be told that you won’t have water for a day the night before. Your communication skills will serve you particularly well when you encounter those clients prone to switching up the scope of a project — you’ll need to let them know exactly how many days additional work will tack onto the project timeline, and how that will affect your estimates. Stay clear and remain friendly, and your business should take off in no time.

Blog written by Erin Vaughan.Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner, whose work can be read on Modernize.com. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes full time.

Modernize is a driving force in online lead generation – connecting high-quality local contractors with homeowners looking to complete home improvement projects of all kinds.  Modernize also focuses heavily on making things energy efficient through sustainable home improvements such as solar panels and upgraded roofing. Learn more about Modernize and how to get involved here: https://modernize.com/contact.

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