Common Client Misperceptions

There is an old saying that perception is reality. Unfortunately, when it comes to home remodeling projects, the reality is often not what a homeowner wants to hear.  This problem is not limited to small companies. There is, in this country at least, a basic trust issue that is endemic, sort of the China Syndrome concept. Owners believe contractors fail to deliver what the contracts specify, gouge them on change orders and seldom accept accountability. Thus we have misconceptions. And this is the area I would like to talk about in this month’s blog.

One misperception many homeowners have is the actual cost of a remodeling project or construction project.

“People may know what they want to do with a kitchen, bath or basement remodel but they often don’t have an idea of the cost or their own budget”, Says Jim Hawthorne of HBDC in Englishtown, (732)-267-9518, hawthornebuilding.net. “That’s why we like them to understand all the options and costs for a project and actually help them establish a budget.” When we start a new project we give you an opening bid, or starting point. Then once all of the plans have been drawn, styles , wants and need are established we proceed with the concrete budget.

Whether you are remodeling a kitchen or putting in new windows, just understanding the difference in levels and quality of products can help to better understand what things cost. You can put vinyl windows in a house for $5,000 or purchase Anderson E-Series windows for $25,000, and obviously there is a big difference in the look and quality as well as the cost.  The same goes for a kitchen remodel, where adding high-end appliances can drastically change the cost. Granite countertops , verses man made materials. You get the drift.

People just don’t think about the added labor costs of remodeling when they have to tear out and gut a home before they can put in the new elements.

People also don’t understand that the recent changes in the state building code adds costs to a project, but some contractors will give the customer a low price just to get the job and then later tell them the project will actually cost more because of the new code. I provide a bid that includes the costs of building to meet code, so the homeowner knows the true cost cost from the start.

My pet peeve is when people have watched one of those house-flipping shows and where they do a complete remodel for $20,000, but reality TV does not mean you get a “reality price” for remodeling. In my experience, most people think a project will cost 50 percent less than what it really costs.

What people forget when they watch those shows is that the price of the project does not include any profit for the contractor, because the TV show is paying the builders for their time. In the real world, a contractor will have to add in their cost of labor to the price of the job.

The second part of home remodeling reality is the time it takes to complete a project.  Many city building departments have experienced layoffs, so it can take up to eight weeks just to get a building permit. Even though there is a State law stating that the building Department has 20 business days to issue a permit in New Jersey. What I have seen building departments do is find some issues with the permit drawings and then reject them. They send us a critique list then we have to correct everything on the list. That allows the 20 day clock to start all over again. I even have experienced building departments saying that they lost our file and now we have to start all over again. And that comes after the blueprints are drawn up for the project and approved by the homeowner, so that adds additional time before we can even start. But to be fair, there are building departments were I have received my permit in two weeks. It just all depends on the building department. They are all different.

We always have to factor in the time it takes to order some products for a remodeling project. I try to identify all of the long term lead items ahead of schedule to make sure we can have them onsite when needed. If you order windows or kitchen cabinets it could take four or five weeks to get them, but then you also have to schedule the contractor to do the tear out and installation so that can add a few more weeks depending on how busy we are.

And while ordering the products takes time, you also need to factor in the time it takes for a customer to make a decision on which products to choose. We also allow our clients to order and receive there products at the project site. The more that is ordered and received before we start, the smoother and faster the project will proceed.

If you want a new composite deck, there are 28 different deck tops and 12 different railings and the list go on, and on. There are so many choices that it can take customers a while to figure out what they want, and that of course means it takes longer to complete the project.

While it is nice to be an optimist for most things in life, when it comes to a remodeling project it is better to be a realist. That way you won’t be shocked to find out halfway through the project that it will cost way more than you thought or take way longer to complete.

If we all take the necessary time in the beginning of the project to properly plan, organize and order your finishes, the project will be produced that much quicker!

So, remember there are good contractors out there that will guide you through the planning process with care and enthusiasm. Your success is their success!

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