Home Show and Tell

It’s show time. No not the Super Bowl or March Madness, I’m talking about the home show season. Coming to a pavilion near you.

Here you sit watching the big game hoping your numbers hit. Your team’s season ended ages ago. Well it did for us here in Chicago anyways. In a few hours the Football season will be over and there won’t be any excuses for putting off the 2016 Home Improvement list.

There’s a big home show this weekend. Where do you start? Here are a few ideas on getting started and maximizing your trip to the home show.

Put your list together: Don’t over think it. Many factors will come in to play as you move forward. This is just a starting point.

Priorities: What project would you like to tackle first? Consider these two things when setting your priorities: How long you plan to stay in the home and what projects have the best payoff. For this you can look to Remodeling Magazine’s annuals Cost vs. Value Report available on line for some guidance.

Your goals: There’s list of projects to be tackled. Then there are the goals for the show. Determine what you want to achieve at the show. You can simply give your phone number to every vendor you talk to and spend the next 2 months listening to sales pitches or you set specific goals you want to achieve at the show. For instance, find a potential contractor(s) for each item on your list.

The list, actually write one down.

Your time is valuable. You must convey this to the vendors. Make sure they understand two things. You will be doing work on your home this year and no one gets an appointment with you unless you are satisfied with their answers. Indicate that you put together this list of projects to be done at the house so you would not waste anyone’s time at the show.

Depending how varied the list is you may decide to expand your list to include a general contractor that can help determine a logical sequence to tackle your projects. Also keep in mind that as in new construction, remodeling has its natural sequences too. In other words you don’t want to start working on the interior if the roof is leaking. Generally speaking you don’t paint first, you paint last.

Most people will just start collecting brochures at home shows. That can be a huge waste of time. Create a list of questions based on criteria important to you when hiring a contractor. Have these questions written out and bring the list with you to help keep you and the potential vendor focused.

Sample Questions:

  1. Have you done projects like the one we are considering?
  2. Have you worked in our town or area before?
  3. Can you provide references, names and numbers? Tell them before committing you will need to go see a couple of these projects in person.
  4. Can you provide me with proof of insurance with us named as also insured on the certificate?
  5. Will I be dealing with the owner? Will the owner be doing the work? If not, ask for a flow chart on the company.
  6. Ask how and how often you can expect progress reports?
  7. Ask for business references and any professional affiliations they maintain as well such as NARI (National Association for the Remodeling Industry) or BBB (Better Business Bureau). These organizations have conflict resolution processes. Don’t confuse these with web sites they pay fees to.
  8. How do you handle conflicts or disagreements with clients?

These are sample questions. Your questions should be based on what’s important to you. The purpose of these questions are to determine who gets through your front door. Not who is getting the project.

If you are wondering about the “how much” question, ask yourself this. If the answers to the questions above are not satisfactory to you, why bother entering into a negotiation. In a negotiation when two parties reach an agreement it is assumed the deal is made. In other words it’s too late and your project has gone from “Done Right” to “Done Cheap”. Good luck with that.

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