Remodeling Success: Relationship vs. Cost

April 2nd, 2010 We all understand that whenwe purchase expensive items (car, furniture, and jewelry), the assumption isthat the price matters.  Value and quality should be uniform in identicalproducts.  That same assumption is often used in remodeling our homes, thelargest purchase and investment most of us make.  We transfer these sameattitudes and assumptions to selecting a remodeler.  There is not acorrelation in remodeling between low cost and value and service. Remodelers are often asked to review detailed plans and provide freeestimates in the hope of being selected on a basis of cost.  This createsa recipe for a doomed project.  Factors such as increased constructiontime, misunderstood assumptions, poor quality materials, weak performingsubcontractors, and a spiraling downward relationship are typical results ofthis selection system.  Other outcomes of selecting a remodeler basedmainly on costs are as follows:

  1. Poor subcontractor selection based primarily on low bids for work.
  2. Subcontractors selected whose workers change constantly and manyare illegal.
  3. Subcontractors who are uninsured or underinsured.
  4. Subcontractors who have difficulty with schedules and startingdates.
  5. Plan reviewing is held to a minimum. A thorough plan review touncover problems, missing details, and engineering cost alternatives requiremany hours of staff work. Most remodelers cannot dedicate this time awayfrom project supervision and management.
  6. There is a much higher incentive to use lower quality materials,non-standard methods, and to cut corners improving a profit set too low.
  7. The Remodeler will typically miss or underestimate work to beperformed.  Furthermore there is a temptation present to lower his profitin order to be selected.  This is a major catalyst for financial problemsduring the project.  It also encourages questionable and unethicalbusiness practices regarding the use of client funds.

Then how should you select a remodeler for a successfulproject?  Like most things in our lives that produce happiness andsuccess, the relationship is the key.  Selecting a remodeler throughrelationship building creates trust, confidence, and peace of mind.  Byinterviewing prospective remodelers thoroughly, the best “fit and match” shouldbecome evident quickly.  In order to evaluate each remodeler fairly,preparation is prudent.  Prepare a set of questions in advance.  Thisshould include:

  1. Years in business
  2. Certifications
  3. Registration of remodeler and projects completed
  4. Awards
  5. Professional Affiliations
  6. Office and Staff make up and duties
  7. Project Management (systems & schedules)
  8. Similar Projects
  9. Processes and communication
  10. Billing and Change Order Procedures
  11. Current Work Load

Also a visit to their office to meet their staff and projectmanager’s helps solidify their presence.  Ask to see some projects thatare underway which will enable you to see how they actually build and keep thework site.

The cost of the project is important but it should only be one ofmany factors in the selection process.  Over design and the cost ofproducts typically are the reasons a project is not built.  The investmentno longer makes sense.   However when this occurs, the temptation tohire the low bid remodeler becomes strong because of the investment in time andmoney spent on the design and drawings.

Invest your time and energy in the early stage of theproject.  Interview and select a remodeler and build a solid relationshipthroughout the design and construction phases.  Your project’s successdepends on it.