Have you ever watched HGTV’s Holmes on Homes? Tom and I have probably watched every episode. And if you have too, then you know our contractor hero, Mike Holmes, works with homeowners who are in need of help, mainly due to unsatisfactory home renovations performed by unscrupulous, or often just inept, contractors. If Holmes on Homes was your primary primer for what your average contractor is like, however, you’d be pretty darn wary of hiring one!

Truth be told, Mike actually imparts great wisdom about taking charge of your own home remodel, and being smart about who you hire. We’re actually fans to the degree that I’m happy to point you to his book and his TV episodes.

But you know what? There are many, many of GREAT, HONEST contractors out there—many of them right here in the great Northwest—that are delivering on their promises and providing remodeling services that leave their clients ecstatic, raving fans. We believe we’re one of them. As Mike says, do your due diligence and be careful in choosing your contractor. A few months ago I posted great list of critical questions to ask a potential contractor to ensure you end up selecting a professional who will do you, and your hard-earned money, right!

To help you understand our trade and better understand what to expect in a home renovation, let me walk you through a few things to consider.

Just like all those smart folks in the space program, contractors are one of the last great adventurers in our modern times. They bravely go into an unknown home and delve into areas that have not been touched since the house was constructed, years and years ago. Who knows what they will find—what they will unearth while digging around your old walls, pipes and wires?

Preparing a quotation is no easy task for these tireless explorers. It would be easy to figure the cost of changing a light bulb if there were no hidden costs. However, what if the bulb wasn’t at fault? Maybe it was the socket, or the switch, the wires, or the whole fuse box itself! Of course, a proficient contractor will be able to quickly narrow these down, especially in so simple an example. However, the unknowns always exist in renovating and you should be prepared for them. We always recommend setting aside 10% of your budget in case something unexpected develops. If the project goes without a hitch, you’re ahead of the game, but it pays to play it safe.

Another frustrating aspect of having work done in your home is when the final product is not what you had envisioned. With projects that I’ve had done in my house I have found that this is usually caused by my lack of explaining to the contractor EXACTLY what I had in MY mind. Either through lack of communication skills on my part, or the contractor’s, there was too much left unsaid.

Bottom line? When planning a renovation TAKE YOUR TIME! If you see a picture in a magazine or online illustrating something that you would like in your kitchen, save it, print it, or tear it out and put it in a folder. Then show these pictures to your contractor. It is much easier to accurately convey what you want if you have a picture to illustrate your point. And once the scope of work is in your hands, carefully review each and every aspect of the project and ensure it is consistent with your expectations.

Delays can be another big source of frustration. Projects involving custom or “built to order” items are, by their very nature, problematic. Besides the time honored “human error” factor, there can be manufacturing defects, shipping damage, etc. Contractors hate this as much as clients do because each time they have to send someone back to your home, it costs them money and they have to adjust their crew’s schedules. In a major project, you should expect that something will be delayed or will have to be replaced. If you’re working with a qualified contractor, you can be sure that they will do their best to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Nevertheless, common sense dictates: Don’t pay for the job in full until it is completed. Most reputable firms stipulate this in their contracts and will not expect 100% payment until the job is 100% completed.

The truth is that most contractors are hardworking, honest, business people who want to please their customers. A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that 64% of a contractor’s jobs come from friends, relatives, and neighbors of their previous customers and 20% comes from repeat business. That accounts for 84% of their new business—that’s too large a number to risk not doing satisfactory work!

When you work with Your Total Renovation, we’ll work with you to minimize potential problems by thoroughly reviewing the proposed renovation with you prior to staring the job. And, by being aware that unforeseen delays are not uncommon, your project will be much less stressful and more rewarding.

We want you to live happier in your home! Can we help you? Call us at 425.890.9000 for a quote!