If you are interviewing companies for your next kitchen, bathroom, or basement remodel, then this read is a must!by Matt Morton| 4/8/2019
This could be the single, most honest, tell it like it is, blog post of my career, prompted from an experience I recently had with a client, so please READ ON!
I was recently retained by a client who selected our firm as the best fit for their large remodeling project! All things aside, we are honored to be the selected company and we are so excited to help these homeowners through this journey!
With that said, I routinely reach out to homeowners after they have chosen their remodeling contractor, whether us or not, to ask if they will discuss their decision making process, and how we ended up as their choice, or not. The primary purpose for this discussion is to help us better understand our market and our business model moving forward by getting even a glimpse into what worked for them as a homeowner with us or other companies – or what did not work.
In conversing with this homeowner for quite some time about all the differences, and why we ended up being chosen for their project, it really got me thinking. I began to realize that this in an issue for many homeowners who are new to the process of finding the right remodeling company for their specific project needs, and they could really benefit from what we have learned over the years – the processes we follow, the steps we take and how they help the consumer along the way. There are four primary issues that, in our opinion, raise red flags right out of the gate and require close attention:
- Wanting to know your budget right from the start ($$$$$).
- Wanting a “down payment” for the design/estimate service.
- Wanting to drag out the estimate and design time
- Lack of communication!!
Kitchen and bathroom remodeling – A very exploited remodeling niche of the 21st century, with literally thousands of companies in the industry offering their services to homeowners. So many, that it can be overwhelming for almost anyone. We have talked about the process of selecting the right company for a remodeling project in previous blogs, and the basics of checking references, checking reviews, asking complex questions, having multiple estimates – as good, solid basics. But they are just that – basics! Below we will dive further into detail for each of the primary issues identified above.
1. What is your budget?
While remodeling is a business, and companies are entitled to make a profit, many companies just don’t want to “waste their time” with a homeowner that may not have the budget that a particular contractor thinks is necessary.
Many companies are more concerned with the amount of money that you have for a project right out of the gate rather than your actual desires for your remodeling project. This is an unfortunate and sad reality of many remodeling companies in today’s industry. Let’s be honest – we all have to be mindful of our time and energy so that it is most efficiently used across the board. However, a genuine remodeling company will listen to you first, give you ideas along the way, inform you of possibilities, and become more excited as the discussion progresses regarding the potential for your remodeling project.
At some point, budget should be discussed, but it should not be the initial topic of your conversation. The idea here, is that whichever remodeling company you are dealing with for design and estimating purposes should be more interested in listening to your specific needs and desires so they can design the perfect space for you. After they gain a better understanding of what you are looking for, then the budget can be discussed. It is by no means “beating around the bush”; instead, it ensures that your needs (the homeowner) are being heard and implemented. An example would be that If you were to pose the following scenario to the representative that arrives to consult with you – “I really want to keep this piece of flooring because of a sentimental relation to my grandfather” – cynical though it may be, I would guess more often than not that you would not see that in your estimate. That’s a major difference for us – we love to remember those type of details along with the more typical remodeling aspects when we are there with you, and to detail them in follow-up estimates and designs – and make sure that you know we understand!
The most important take-away from this first issue is that when you begin interviewing remodeling companies, make sure that you are consulting with someone who is focused on your specific remodeling project, including the space, the design, and the building, rather than how much money you have.
2. “Down Payment” for design/estimating services
Everyone wants to be compensated for their time, and no one wants to do things for free, if you can be paid for it, right? When it comes to home remodeling projects, we could not disagree more!!!
More times than not (at least 90% of time), when we are awarded a kitchen remodeling project, the client chose us because we made the process easy, there was no up-front obligation or “down payment” whatsoever, we listened to what they wanted, worked with them all the way through, and were then able to provide them exactly what they wanted – a perfect design for their space and an extremely detailed job cost. All within days, not weeks.
Many remodeling companies will suggest that any estimating and design services you get for no cost are not as thorough or detailed as they would be if you had paid for the service. This is one of the most inaccurate and misleading statements that could be made!!
This is a major issue for some remodeling companies, and to be honest I am not really sure how or where it started. We understand that not all projects/designs that we work on will be awarded to our company – and that’s okay. We still love the practice if nothing else! And meeting people, helping people, providing ideas to people, solving problems for people ultimately helps us understand the industry better. If, in the end, our design and estimate are the ones chosen by the homeowner, then that is obviously a great outcome!
Plain and simple, CWC provides first class design services, with in-house design professionals, beautiful 3D renderings of your spaces, and extremely detailed estimates for your projects. We engage with the client right out of the gate and we have the resources to return your design (free of charge), sometimes in the same day! And we provide the costs as well. All in a matter of days. We can then come back out, or through email communications, make any changes needed to the design and estimate, until achieving the homeowner’s desired remodeling goals. All with no cost involved to the homeowner! Below are some testimonials from our recent clients:
We maintained constant communication for several months, talking or texting several times a week, as Matt patiently addressed all of my concerns and promptly took action on anything needing to be done. He and his crew did a fabulous job on the repairs and renovations. I received an excellent value for the money I spent. Matt had great ideas for the renovations, particularly in the kitchen. He took advantage of dead space in the original construction and redesigned it to make my new kitchen much bigger”
If you need a skilled craftsman who treats your home like his own…Matt and his Craftsworth team are the way to go. You get what you pay for…if you are lucky and with Matt…you absolutely do get the quality you want and expect.”
~ W. Ray
And take a look at some of the designs and 3D renderings we have produced at no cost for other clients in just the last week!
How? Because we love our industry, we are highly motivated to help anyone with their dream space, and because at the end of the day it really does not require as much effort to do as many companies would like you to believe. Yes we have to spend time, but time we have!
Again, the point here is that while other firms may require a “down payment” and ask you to visit a showroom with a designer, or to sign a contract with them to even begin work on your estimates and designs, it is completely unnecessary. We at Craftsworth will do that leg work, bring you the cabinet samples, and make the process as easy as possible for the busy homeowners we have all evolved into these days.
Let’s also be clear – we are not the only firm out there that has this ability – others can and also do provide similar services. The primary purpose of this discussion was to provide people searching for a remodeling company with assurances that they should not feel pressured into a “down payment”, design fee, or upfront cost of any sort. What if at the end of the process, you decide to go with a different company or decide to cancel the remodeling project altogether because you want to move to a new house? That’s your option and it should remain that way with no resources wasted. Eventually, a monetary investment may be needed if you are looking to acquire full blown set of engineering or architectural drawings – but certainly not during the design and estimating phases of a project!
3. Dragging out the timeline for design/estimating services
It should take a few days to a week to get your design and estimates – no more!!!
This is a simple note to consider, but one that should not be misunderstood. When you are working with a professional remodeling company that has the knowledge and resources to properly execute your project, the designs and estimates for your project should be delivered to you within one week.
With that said, we all get busy, and sometimes more so than others, making it difficult to produce these documents within typical timeframes. Generally speaking, though, if you are waiting for more than a couple of weeks, you have to wonder – is this company capable of providing the product you want or expect in a timely manner? At Craftsworth, we understand this like noone else!! We pride ourselves in providing exactly what you asked for, as quickly as we possibly can, while being the most accurate and detailed out there. If we visit your home for a kitchen consultation, you can rest assured that we will deliver your design and estimate, along with beautiful 3D renderings where applicable, within one week. That’s a commitment to service!
4. Communication!! Communication!! Communication!!
A lack of steady communication from a prospective remodeling company should raise major red flags!! I cannot say it enough!!
As this blog is approaching the end, and some good points have been made, we must not forget this one. If you ask someone a question, how quickly do you expect an answer? It would be nice if it was right away wouldn’t it?
What sets Matt apart from other contractors is his excellent communication skills and his attention to detail. We highly recommend Craftsworth Construction and will definitely use them again!
~ J. Ronzano
Obviously, unless you are in a direct conversation, this is not usually the case. However, an email, (even a lengthy one) should be responded to in less than 24 hours. There is just no good reason, aside from emergency situations, that it should take any longer. We at Craftsworth pride ourselves in thorough, open, and transparent communication, with answers to your needs and questions within a day!
The issue for me lies in a company needing to retain a homeowner’s money just to provide a simple estimate, proposal, or job cost (and yes they are all three in and of the same). If you want to be presented with a job budget, well that can be done on site, in the first visit verbally no questions asked. As a homeowner, obtaining a nice design and detailed estimate for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project (at no cost), is not asking too much. This is a service that we, the professionals in the trade, enjoy doing, and makes us who we are. The only exceptions to this might be if your project requires a large addition with utilities; or an entire home renovation (top to bottom) with very serious structural changes that necessitate an immediate need for engineering or architectural services – these are some instances when you might expect to pay for a planning phase.
To wrap this up, take the time to interview and research your remodeling contractors:
- Be wary of a contractor who wants to know your budget before they know what your project hopes and desires are.
- Understand that a “down payment” for design and estimating services is not a requirement – there are plenty of high quality options that do require this
- The vast majority of remodeling projects should require no more than a week for a company to deliver a solid design and renderings, as well as a detailed cost estimate.
- Always demand thorough, consistent, and responsive communications from prospective contractors.