If you’ve ever hired a home-improvement contractor to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, add on a room, make a major repair or replace something big like your air conditioning system, you know that relationship was as much about trust as it was about remodeling, adding on, repairing or replacing.
In fact, your ability to trust your contractor might be even more important to you than his ability to fix what’s broken in your house.
Yet most of the time when homeowners are deciding which contractor to hire, they want to focus their first conversation with the candidates on three things. First, they want to know how much the project will cost. Second, they want to know how quickly the contractor can start and finish the job. And finally, they want to talk about what I call “bricks and sticks”: the size of the room, the material for the countertops and the color of the tile.
They rarely want to spend time getting to know the contractor well enough to determine if he is honest, has a good reputation, did a good job for other clients and will treat the homeowners and their home with respect.
The result: Too many homeowners hire in a hurry and wind up with contractors who aren’t a good fit for them. Think again about your past experiences with home-improvement contractors. Ever had a bad one?
If the answer is yes, think about why. Did the contractor charge you way more than you expected to pay? Was he unreliable about showing up when he said he would? Did you suspect he was cutting corners by installing cheap products but charging you for quality materials that he didn’t use? Did the job take twice as long as he had predicted during that first meeting?
And was this someone you pretty much hired on the spot, without calling any of his references to ask about his work habits and cost overruns? Without checking to see if his contractor’s licenses were up to date? Without getting to know him well enough to gauge whether you could trust him to give you an accurate estimate, to operate in a professional manner, and to treat you fairly and honestly?
Many homeowners who contact my company about their remodeling projects and room additions have worked with other contractors who promised them low prices, quick timelines and high quality that they didn’t deliver. And almost all of them admit that they were either in a big hurry to start their projects or wanted to get a lot of work done for as little money as possible.
Ultimately, they didn’t get what they wanted, but they could have.
Most people spend months and even years thinking about remodeling the kitchen or enlarging the master bedroom/bathroom suite before they start looking for a contractor. Then, they want it started and finished immediately.
Most people also know that top-quality home-improvement work takes time and isn’t cheap. But they forget that or ignore it the minute a contractor starts promising terms that everyone knows aren’t possible.My advice to you: Choose a contractor who believes in measuring twice and cutting once. That’s a professional who knows the value of planning every facet of a home-improvement project before starting it. That’s a remodeler who methodically figures out how much the job is going to cost instead of giving you quick guesstimate. That’s someone who considers potential problems and their solutions in advance instead of surprising everyone.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build, an Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner, in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.jebdesignbuild.com.