Category Archives: Remodeling Mistakes

Why We Don’t Email Quotes or Leave Them in the Mailbox

About once a month we receive a call from someone asking us:

“Can you please stop by my home, give me a roof quote, and then leave it in the mailbox?”

The short answer is no.

The long answer is, yes, we’d love to work with you to develop an accurate quote for replacing your roof. But just looking at your current roof is not going to give us all the information we need to develop that quote. There are many different types of roofs! What about insulation, gutters, etc? We need to meet with the homeowner one-on-one to have these important discussions and show them all of their options.

For kitchens and bathroom quotes, we often times will gather sample boards around our showroom, and develop an on-screen presentation to show the client, all things that cannot be relayed adequately through email. Our preference is for the client to visit our showroom for the second meeting, where the proposal will be discussed.

Still, many clients request that we “just email the quote”. All you will be getting that way is some technical verbage, some drawings, and a price. You will either love it or hate it, and if it is not perfect, you might dismiss us as a company.

If you were here in the showroom, however, we could take everything you didn’t love, and make revisions right there! Price too high? We can show you alternate materials to help save money. Everything is right here. We understand when clients cannot make it to our showroom for different reasons, and we will gladly come back to you, bringing as many samples as we can, but emailing quotes just does not make sense 99% of the time. It is just too impersonal. We put so much time and effort into developing these quotes, we do not like to simply press “send” and shoot off a PDF to you, we want to show off all the details!

Of course there are always exceptions. Some of our customers live out of state, and others have unique needs that we gladly fulfill. I just wanted to express the reasons you should let us go over the quote with you, if you are able to. You will definitely find it beneficial, and our time and advice are always free!

How to Compare Multiple Bids the Smart Way

You’ve surely heard the phrase “Comparing Apples with Oranges”.

If you change your design every time you interview a contractor and ask them to bid, then comparing their bids will be a worthless exercise.  Each contractor will be bidding on a different thing.

Avoiding this problem is obvious: have a clear detailed plan and give the same set of prints to each contractor you ask to bid.

However, even if you give ten contractors the same plans, when you receive the bids you must look further than their bottom line price.  You should not always go for low bid, assuming you will save money; or high bid, assuming you’ll get the best quality; or middle bid, assuming you’ll get the best of both worlds.  Smart comparison means reviewing exactly what you will get for your money.

For example, if one contractor takes responsibility for mistakes, and has a built-in 5% allowance for unexpected costs, their bid will naturally be higher and still be a better value.

Or a contractor might be high bid because the other contractors left out portions of the remodel on the bid, relying on charging for change orders to finish the project.

Or a contractor might be the lowest bid not because they are basing it on cheaper materials or omitting parts of the project, but because they have an original and unique solution no one else has thought of.

The thing is to be smart when you compare.  A good idea is to choose your bidding contractors by reputation and involve them in the budget.  A good contractor can help you make the correct decisions that will allow you to stay within your budget.

Plan for the Unexpected Before Beginning Your Remodeling Project

If the unexpected did not happen, there would be no insurance industry.  Remodeling is like anything else – something unexpected will alwayshappen, often incurring extra cost.  Examples of the unexpected are:

Perhaps the inspector will require an upgrade that was not in the original contract.  If the insulation rating in the walls goes up in July, and you got your permit in May, a field inspector may require you to make this change to meet current code.  Surprise!

Perhaps the previous homeowners did a remodel and left abandoned pipes or heat ducts in the walls or ceiling.  There is no way the contractor, architect or inspector would know this until the wall is opened.  Surprise!

Perhaps the eletrical circuits are hooked together poorly, requiring you to put the kitchen on its own circuit or reorganize the panel.  Or if you have added electrical circuits your panel may be full and need to be upgraded. Surprise!

Perhaps after you start a project, the contractor suddenly notices a hairline crack in an upstairs wall, and discovers that the homeowner had cut a main support beam downstairs to make room for a heating duct.  The Contractor will have to add a beam support and jack up the sag.  Surprise!

There is no way to avoid the unexpected.  But knowing that it will occur will reduce your stress and save you from unreasonable expectations.  Surprises should not be surprising!

At Kopke Remodeling & Design, we use our many years of experience working with different types of homes, to predict as many potential surprises as possible before they happen, and plan for them in advance.  We very rarely “upcharge” the customer for “unforeseen issues” after the contract is signed, which is one reason why our estimates may be higher than some of our competitors who are no strangers to this “tactic”.

The Importance of Not “Overbuilding for Your Neighborhood”

Home Remodeling Mistake #6: Overbuilding for Your Neighborhood

Your neighborhood has an enormous effect on the value of your home. No matter how large, elaborate or beautiful your remodeled home is, there is a maximum house value that your neighborhood will allow.  Overbuilding can mean that you will lose money on the sale of your home.  If you are going to live in your home forever, then this may not matter to you.  However, most people will move at some time, so consideration of your home’s resale value is of primary importance.

Make good decisions in the planning stages of your remodel to eliminate this problem.  For instance, if you want expensive granite counter tops, but your house’s resale value does not warrant this expense, you can get tile that looks like granite.  There is a wide range of quality materials to choose from today, so it is almost always possible to replace an expensive material with another that will still allow you to have the look and feel you want.

Remember, your home’s beauty is enhanced by its harmony with its surroundings.  Building a castle in a trailer park does not improve the trailer park.  It just makes the castle less valuable.

How Often Should You Communicate with Your Contractor?

Home Remodeling Mistake #5 : Poor Communication with the Contractor

Some people are afraid to look “dumb” if they ask questions of the contractor, or if they don’t understand something.  This is self-defeating; no question is dumb.  Free and open communication with your contractor is essential for a good remodel experience.  A good contractor will welcome questions and be willing to address your concerns.  If you just want to understand how something works, most contractors will be glad to explain.  An informed homeowner is usually a happy homeowner, and the contractor wants you to be happy.

If you see a potential problem, don’t assume the contractor has seen it too.  It is possible someone has made a mistake.  Let the contractor know so he can fix it sooner rather than later.  The contractor will thank you for your attention.  Remember, the contractor  cannot be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and you wouldn’t want to pay him for that much time, anyway!

Having set times for talking to your contractor can help you communicate regularly.  Not knowing what is going on with your remodel can be a huge source of stress.  If you have done your homework and chosen a good contractor, you should be able to trust them to do their job.  But trust does not replace regular communication.  You must be communicating with your contractor, and this is most important at critical stages.

Even if everything is perfect and nothing needs to be done, you will feel good knowing that your project is proceeding smoothly and on schedule.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

Mistake #4: Incomplete Research on the Contractor

Remodeling your home is like having guests come to stay for a few months.  They hang around you and your spouse, your kids, your pets.  Would you let just anybody into your home? The more you know about your contractor the better you will feel about having them there.  You need to know they are honest, honorable and competent.

Remodeling can be a stressful time.  The stress can be lessened greatly by knowing you can trust your contractor.  If you research your contractor you can let yourself be excited about the project, and let your worry go.

Following are some questions you should ask your contractor. (We’ve included Kopke Remodeling & Design’s answers for you!)

Company Name: Kopke Remodeling & Design
Address: 38200 Van Dyke Ave. Sterling Heights, MI 48312
Telephone: 586-777-6633
Fax: 586-883-9806
Email: kkopke@kopkehome.com
Contact Person: Kayla Kopke
License Number: 2102112787
Do you carry Workers Compensation? Yes
Do you carry liability insurance? Yes
Will your insurance company send me a copy directly? Yes
Is this business your sole means of support? Yes
How long have you been in business? Since 1993 – in our 21st year
Do you belong to professional organizations? Which Ones? Yes, NKBA, NARI
Do you respond to emergencies? Yes for current and past clients
Will the work be ongoing? Yes
Who do I call for changes and for information on the Schedule? Curt Goebel (interior) or Dale Dexter (exterior)
What is your policy on clean-up? Everyday pick up and weekend deeper clean
What is your warranty? Lifetime Workmanship Warranty – never expires
When are payments made? Progressive
Are your materials new? Yes
Have you done similar projects? Most Likely
May I have a list of your 5 last projects without prejudice (not just “selected” references)? Yes
How do you treat changes? Written change order
Who pays if an inspector requests a change? Depends on circumstances
Do you provide a contract that is clear about what is included and what is not? Yes
How long will my project take? We run very tight schedules