Tag 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!

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”.

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.

Home Remodeling Mistake #3: Assuming it’s Cheaper to do it Yourself

If you are a handy person with a small project, doing it yourself will save you money on your labor costs.  But only on your labor costs and only if your project is small!  Here is where doing it yourself will cost you MORE:

Materials cost – Professionals buy their materials cheaper than you can because they buy at contractor rates, a special bulk rate for those who buy in large volume.  Contractors are also professional buyers of building materials; they shop for and negotiate the most advantageous prices.  Special discounts, warranties and returns privileges are also available for contractors that simply are not given to regular customers.

Cost of tools – Professionals use the highest quality tools.  They also always have the correct tool for the correct job.  Don’t underestimate the damage the wrong tool or a cheap tool can do to your project.

Code violations cost – Do you know the current building codes for your area? Are you capable of remodeling to that code?  An out of code remodel can actually devalue your home.

Cost of your time – If you are working on your remodel when you would otherwise be working in your own profession, you are losing money.  If you are working on your remodel when you would otherwise be relaxing or spending time with your family, you could be putting your health and your relationships in jeopardy.

Value of your home – The quality a homeowner will accept if they do it themselves is much different than what they will accept if they hire a professional.  Because of their experience, a professional will think of, and troubleshoot, things you have never even thought or heard of.  A poor remodel will devalue your home.  Your house is probably your single largest leveraged asset, growing at approximately 4% each year, and a main feature of your retirement plan.  Any remodeling decisions you make will directly impact your home’s resale value.

Saving a few thousand dollars today could cost you many more thousands tomorrow, plus some relationships.  Before you begin a project yourself, get some professional advice and really consider how much time and energy you want to spend on “doing it yourself”.

Home Remodeling Mistake #2: Incomplete Design Plan

Remodeling in stages can be a mistake if you don’t have an overall plan that does not change.  The plan must show the entire house and not just one room at a time.  Otherwise it is easy to end up with incomplete ideas, which leads to contractors guessing what you wanted to achieve.

Having the design done by one firm and the building done by another can also lead to problems, because the contractor may not have the entire picture.  Details that have not yet been firmed up are always left off the working prints, so the contractor must make assumptions, which may or may not be correct.  The contractor will usually assume missing details are meant to match the existing styles or materials, unless they are told differently.

For instance, perhaps a homeowner is having an addition built onto the house now, and is planning on having a new roof in a different material put on the entire house the following year.  In that case, it would make sense to roof the addition with the new material.  But this is the kind of detail often left off the prints, so unless you tell your contractor your plans for next year, they will assume that the roofing material on the addition should match the existing roof.

One way to avoid the problem of contractors having an incomplete picture is to use the same company to design and build.  You should also make sure all changes and missing details are written in a change order or amendment to the contract.  However, not all missing details will be caught before the project starts.  Make sure you have open communication with your contractor in writing, via email or fax, for updates and clarifications.

Home Remodeling Mistake #1 : Design Exceeds Budget

Do not make design decisions before you know whether they will fit your budget.  This often leads to unnecessary and unhappy surprises.  These surprises can be avoided if you have the necessary information and do the proper planning in the beginning stages of the design.

Be honest and open with your designer / contractor.  Make sure they know your goals for your remodel, from budgetary goals to lifestyle goals to aesthetic goals.  For example, let them know which rooms are the most important to you.  If the kitchen is of central importance and you have chosen very expensive countertops, then your contractor may advise you on the bathroom cabinetry that is less expensive, so you can stay within your budget.

Finally, when you make changes, ALWAYS ask how the change will specifically affect the budget – before the changes are mad.e  Don’t wait for the surprise.