48% of homeowners choose the wrong remodeler.

Here's how to improve your odds.

Nothing of course. However, if that is true, then why did a recent Pro Remodeler Magazine national survey show that a whopping 48% of homeowners would not recommend their remodeler to anyone? We assume the exception being their worst enemy of course.

We’ll take this moment to come clean and say we probably wouldn’t be blogging on this topic if our client satisfaction rating were not extremely high—95% lifetime according to GuildQuality.

Be that as it may, it shouldn’t be surprising that remodeling client satisfaction is not so common, and is, in fact, the number one fear among homeowners.

There are many ways a remodel can go sideways. It could be an unrealistic budget, poor communication, sloppy craftsmanship by any of a dozen people on the project, a longer than expected build-out that seems eternal.

“Satisfaction is really the overall feeling you get as a homeowner when the job is done,” explains owner John Murphy. “To be satisfied, there’s got to be way more thrills than disappointments. That's because any complicated endeavor like a remodel will always have things that don’t go as planned. No remodel is flawless. If that's what you're after you'd be better off shopping for an expensive diamond.”

So, to help you feel more confident in choosing a “high client satisfaction remodeler”, we’ve identified five satisfaction red flags to watch out for and what you can do to safeguard yourself from having a bad experience.

While the construction industry has some regulations, they are few and easily circumvented. A contractor, builder or remodeler, can fail at a business, even skip town on a job, and still reinvent the business under a new name and license number. These are the “take the money, do a little and disappear” folks, you see on the news now and then, still around giving our industry a bad name. Only takes a few.

ACTION: Ask them for recent and past references, at least 5 years old. Also, look up the length of time in business under the state issued license number. Optional—check to see newness of their briefcase and the shine of their shoes. Alligator skin boots and a burner phone are also a dead giveaway. In that case run.

Many remodelers start off as carpenters. They learn first hand what it takes to build a quality job to the satisfaction of homeowners. With hard fought knowledge they branch out on their own, certain they can deliver a successful remodel. And no one would blame them for that confidence. Unfortunately, running a business isn’t the same thing as being able to properly installing a patio door, crown molding, or demolishing a second floor Jacuzzi. Hiring the right people to work for you, managing the books, cultivating vendor relationships, HR, add 50 more things to that list and client satisfaction quickly takes a back seat.

ACTION: Ask them how long they’ve been in business, how many employees they have and how long they’ve been with them. Also, inquire about their internal systems, bookkeeping, HR, and project management applications they use.

This guy, usually working from his office/truck, has only one way to win the job—by appealing with the lowest price. These are the guys who offer a “free” boilerplate estimate, with no intention of sticking with that number. You can expect an escalating series of change orders to make up for what the job should have be budgeted at in the first place. Remodeling shouldn’t be like the car repair game—where you don’t know how much it’s going to cost or when the uncertainty will end.

ACTION: Ask them to provide life-long survey information on budgeting success.

They really do mean well and try hard. But their lack of experience means they often bid a project without the thoroughness only years of expertise can teach. They soon realize they have undersold the project by a lot, again. Nothing like the sudden realization that you are going to be working for free for the next month to bring out your best, most thorough work. Right?

ACTION: Note how willing they are to agree with anything you say or want to do, and how much they talk as opposed to how much they listen to you. They often wear the remnants of their last job on their shirts and pants.

This poor fellow will probably die young. He insists on doing everything himself, even if he has hired others to do the job. He cares so much about satisfaction and perfection that he can’t get himself out of the way long enough for his employees to supersede his own skillset. Demoralized, the crew does the best they can, but with the sure knowledge it won’t be good enough. In the end, he wears everyone out, including the client. God help his spouse.

ACTION: Ask if he is the only one in the company that meets with clients to start the process.

In the end, that satisfaction is also up to you, the client. If your expectations aren’t shared clearly with your remodeler and frequently tested and confirmed to make sure they are realistic, then you are bound to be disappointed regardless of the craftsmanship or general excellence provided.

ACTION: Speak your mind; don’t hold anything back regardless of how small you think it is. Repeat what you hear your remodeler says back to them to confirm clarity. Expect excellence, not perfection.

Remember, even a well run remodeling company can deliver a less than satisfactory experience. Life is messy, difficult and chocked full of humans. It takes exceptional effort, comprehensive systems, and a dedication to adapt and overcome whatever life throws at you. So, choose a company with a long and consistently high satisfaction rating among homeowners and works daily to improve on that rating.

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