"Experience SBI" – The Remodeling Newsletter

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Remodeling Success 101

Q: Who ensures a quality job?

While the owner of a small contracting company might be on site every day, a professionally managed company will usually assign a dedicated project manager to the job. This person has in-depth knowledge about the project as well as solid working relationships with the company’s regular subcontractors. The site manager’s primary responsibility is making sure that the project gets built to specifications and that it meets the contractor’s quality standards.

Remodeling is Not a Game of Poker

Should you tell us your real budget? If you want a successful project, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

We occasionally meet homeowners who don’t want to reveal their true budget numbers. This lack of disclosure is not in their best interests and almost always sets the stage for disappointment.

Such reluctance is understandable, of course. Much of the online advice about hiring contractors treats the process as a poker game, with the contractor as the opponent. This mentality leads people to hold their cards close.

But the adversarial approach is the least effective one when planning a major remodel. You’re not engaging in a one-time transaction; instead, you are partnering with a professional who will transform your design vision into reality, and who will likely be in and out of your home for weeks or months. Success demands that you choose a remodeler in whom you have enough trust to discuss how much you are prepared to invest in the project. You can give a range rather than a hard number, but it needs to be realistic.

A reality-based budget is a crucial tool in the remodel planning process. Most people have preconceived notions of what a project should cost, based on friends’ experiences or generic advice they’ve read. But these assumptions seldom support the designs and products they’re envisioning, and the result tends to be frustration. Putting your budget cards on the table is the only way the remodeler can paint an accurate picture of what’s possible.

The best approach is to bring your design—whether it’s a full set of plans or just a rough concept—along with your product wishes and your budget to your trusted professional remodeler for a planning session. The remodeler will weigh these against your ability to pay. If there’s a gap, having complete information opens the door to finding creative solutions.

These solutions usually involve a bit of value engineering, which is a systematic approach to making intelligent tradeoffs that satisfy the homeowners’ priorities using the funds they already have.

Value engineering may include altering the layout, such as reducing the size of an addition so as not to take floor space from areas you consider most important. If you’re considering selling in the near future, a knowledgeable builder will also look for ways to cut remodel costs while protecting the finished home’s projected market value. For instance, potential buyers will likely value the home the same regardless of its roof covering, so choosing standard composition shingles instead of that shiny metal roof could slash roofing costs by 75 percent without affecting resale value.

The value engineering process can also include specifying less-costly products that, while not ideal, are easily upgraded later. For example, you can replace that $50 light fixture with the $1000 chandelier you want when you have the cash. Or you could opt for inexpensive carpet today and install hardwood floors in a couple of years. The remodeler will also ensure that you make the best choices today on items that aren’t easily upgraded, like cabinets and countertops.

This tradeoff process can go on until you have a set of plans and specifications that give you as much as possible of what you want without creating financial hardship.

The remodeler can’t do this creative work without an accurate budget. In other words, an honest discussion about money is a prerequisite to getting a result that will satisfy. But it all comes down to choosing a pro that you trust to be your partner.

Warm regards,

Jay DePhelps, CGR, CAPS
Sound Builders Inc.
(206) 246-7100

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Sound Builders Inc. - 1- 30th St. NW, Auburn, WA 98001 Phone: 206-246-7100 or 253-859-7978 Email:
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