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Remodeling. There... I said it.

Why do people say “I’m on a fixed income” when they have a company out to quote a project? Like, do you think that your financial situation changes the cost of materials or the crew’s pay rates with that magical phrase? Do you think that it changes the minimum profit that the company needs to make to survive week to week? Essentially what you’re saying to any contractor worth a damn is, “I can’t afford to do this and I’m going to be a giant pain in your ass”. That’s the truth that no one wants to say to your face. There. I said it.

Be realistic. Yes, doing it yourself will ALWAYS be cheaper. What you do with your money is up to you. But once you sign a contract to pay a certain amount, pay it. If your contractor shows up and performs the specifications in that contract. PAY THEM. If not, you’ll go straight to the shit list, and contractors talk, like it or not. Construction is a very difficult and competitive business, the last thing any of us need are clients that want to be difficult to. We’re already dealing with inspectors on power trips, material delays or shortages, salespeople that over-promise and under-deliver, subcontractors that don’t give a crap and sometimes even employees with attitudes because no matter what they make, it’s never enough. It’s no wonder why so many contractors quit, drink, or fail.

Contractors are in business to make a profit. Shocker, I know. Most of them are not making huge profits either, contrary to the stereotypes. I should make a point to say I’m writing this about the contractors THAT I KNOW personally, and there are a lot of them. I understand that there are some seriously shady, fly by night guys out there that scam and take your money. Buyer beware. Trust your gut, get references, and call the building department. Anyway, the cost of doing business in remodeling is extremely high. Workers Comp in Ohio is insanely expensive, Insurance, vehicles and maintenance, payroll, tools (oh my gosh the amount of tools needed), finance charges if cash flow is tight, clients that refuse to pay on time, some that even refuse to pay period, and then accounting and legal fees. I guarantee I’m forgetting some things too. If you think labor for a project is going to be $20 an hour (some really think this) you are dead wrong. If that’s what you want, go ahead and have your best friend's uncle that’s laid off from Ford tackle that for you, because that’s what he does on the side anyway. By all means. I will wait for the serious and discerning client all day. The one that’s realistic about the budget and is ready to finance or pay cash for the project.

Trying to take over running the project after construction begins just causes problems. You hired an experienced contractor to do the project. LET THEM DO IT. They know the order of the mechanicals and what the city expects. Flirting with the city permitting department and inspectors simply makes you a joke and not a powerful player in the construction world. These people want to be done dealing with you as soon as they start. That’s a fact. And no, showing up with donuts did not help you get that permit any faster, but if it makes you feel better to think so - go ahead.

HGTV is wrong. Lord have mercy, I cannot tell you how many times someone has expected to remodel their kitchen like they see on tv for $5,000. Chances are- that’s just the cost of your new countertops installed with a sink and maybe a nice faucet. Kitchens are $30-60,000 professionally installed all day. Bathrooms are usually $10-50,000. I’ve done cheap ones for $10,000 and beautiful luxury baths for $45-55,000.00. Many times on HGTV what you’re seeing in the numbers is the contractor's cost (probably deeply discounted because the products are being shown on tv). You don’t see any Overhead and profit added to those numbers. If you’re the client- you are paying overhead and profit. Remember, contractor’s are in business to make a profit. They are not a charity. They have homes and families to support just like you do. And they have employees to employ.

Good communication goes both ways. You are interviewing your contractor, and we are interviewing you at the same time. You should read my post on Unspoken expectations if you haven’t. There can be a lot of that in construction. Clients assume that they are getting something, contractors assume that clients know that they aren’t getting anything outside the scope of the quote and neither one talks about it. Guess what happens then? It becomes a hostile unhappy professional relationship. Nobody wins. Be the communicator, if the other side isn’t. Contractors are typically men (not always, but a majority), and let’s be honest… Most men are terrible communicators. So make sure your project terms are very clear, and if there are add-ons, get them in writing. Every time, no exceptions.

Referrals make you a priority. If you are happy with your project and your experience, refer your contractor to your friends and family. Everyone wants to know a good contractor in case they need one. And contractors love to be referred. Referrals mean less chasing sales and better clients and projects. It also means, next time you need a project done, you’re at the top of the list for scheduling.

Before demo day, clean the room, especially the toilet. These guys get up close and personal when removing a toilet from the bathroom. The least you can do is clean the dried piss off of it before they arrive. For real, Clean the toilet and the bathroom floor. These talented and very experienced guys, don’t want to be inches away from the smell of dried urine. It’s gross. Clean any room before a project starts. It doesn't have to be a deep clean, just get your personal stuff out and wipe down surfaces.

If you see something going in that you don’t like, stop the project right then. Do not wait until it’s finished and then say you want something changed or wish it was different. It could have been changed with a small delay and maybe a change order- but you’d be happy with the end product. We know that most people cannot always tell from samples what something is ultimately going to look like. I personally, do my best to read your body language during selections so that I know you’ll love it. The reality is, some of you don’t have any idea what you like and don’t like until you see it on the wall. It’s you- I’m talking to you. If the tile is going in and you don’t like it- stop them. They would rather take off half of one wall than all three shower walls of tile, and we can return the unused tile too- saving you money. If it’s installed and you want it redone, you’re paying for the tile installed, the demo of that tile and the new tile. Say something.

Remember, contractors are human too. Most of them are not out to “screw you”. We all just want to go to work everyday, build beautiful projects for great clients and enjoy what we’re doing. Many of my clients hug me at the end of the project. They refer me and my guys to their friends and family and they cheer us on when we share photos of other work we’re doing. If this is the kind of relationship you have with your contractor, that’s how you know you found a good one. I hope you find a good one.

May love and comfort surround you,



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