Minimize Stress and Maximize Sanity
A good remodeler will have systems in place for making the experience a positive one for the homeowners.
Remodeling a home can be stressful. Savvy homeowners choose a remodeler who will make it less so. But beyond making certain the company is licensed and insured and has provided a fair bid and a professional contract, how do owners determine whether a company will deliver on its promises and not tax their sanity?
The answers lie in good systems. Companies with clearly defined management systems tend to be better organized, communicate more effectively and minimize unwanted surprises.
Three systems that are key to a comfortable remodeling process have to do with communications, schedules and responsibilities.
Communications. A recent Consumer Reports survey of more than 900 homeowners confirmed that, when it comes to remodeling, miscommunication is the root of most ills. That's why smart remodelers have solid processes for keeping their clients informed at all times. Signs of a company that communicates well include detailed project descriptions (leaving no question about what the finished product will include), the ability to clearly explain financial concepts (where, exactly, the dollars are spent) and regular meetings.
Meetings eliminate problems by getting everyone to think through the job. A good example is the preconstruction meeting, where the homeowners meet with the remodeler's team to review plans, schedules, and job rules. This is also a time for the homeowners to ask questions and make requests. Topics could include anything: work hours, bathroom use, parking, cleanliness and dust control, materials storage, what trees to protect, etc.
Ongoing meetings, at an agreed upon schedule, tend to be shorter and less formal, but keep everyone updated on job progress and provide an opportunity to gain clarity and solve problems.
Schedules and Payments. The old adage "fail to plan, plan to fail" may have been penned by a remodeler: a schedule that details the job from start to finish is crucial to getting things done on time and within budget. Of course weather delays, delivery backlogs and other unforeseen events can shift production schedules over time, but a well-managed company starts with a plan and updates everyone when things change.
Payment schedules are also important. The remodeler gets a percentage of the job cost as a down payment, and subsequent payments on completion of certain milestones: the finish of demolition and framing, the completion of mechanical and insulation inspections, etc. Well-planned payment schedules allow owners to clearly understand what is expected of them and help the remodeler to manage his resources over the course of construction.
Who, what, when? As a Professional Remodeler, we invest time to help our clients understand how our team is organized and how to interact with team members. We clarify who will be responsible for the job at each stage, including the final closeout and punch list. Who the owner can contact with questions or concerns, what's the best way to make contact, and how long before you can expect a response.
Understanding how a remodeler handles these kind of issues has real payoffs. The answers will indicate how effectively a builder communicates, pays attention to details, and has systems for getting things done on time and according to plan -- all of which help make the project the positive experience it should be.
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Village Builders Inc