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The low-bid, budget company may cost more in the long run. Here’s why.
Does your remodeler have the resources and–more importantly–the management systems needed to handle a complex remodeling project? If not, the final cost in dollars and disappointment may be more than you bargained for.
There are innumerable ‘horror stories’ on the Internet about the downsides of hiring the lone contractor. In the extreme, you may read about solo operators who lack the needed licenses and insurance to protect homeowners from accidents or fraud. They may lack written warranties or have insufficient human resources to complete jobs as promised. The failure rates of home contractors are second only to restaurants, and there is no guarantee they will be around when problems surface.
On most jobs, these types of fly-by-night operators aren’t our real competitors. Customers looking for a large addition or an expensive kitchen remodel are savvy enough to avoid these guys. A more subtle, yet often equally difficult set of issues is presented by a company that lacks the internal management systems needed to focus manpower and attention to successfully complete such projects. Understanding the difference between them and us will help you decide who’s right for your project.
Understaffed companies typically talk up the personal attention they supposedly provide. This kind of company often has a field staff of one: the owner. If the owner is present on a job all day, every day, who is running the business? Along with managing a project, the owner must market, sell, bid future work, schedule subcontractors, meet with new prospects, pay bills, and on and on. Can anyone spread this thin provide the attention to detail that your project demands?
By contrast, the adequately staffed, well-organized professional remodeler delegates work to a team of specialists. Projects have innumerable details that require the coordination of dozens of employees, suppliers, and subcontractors, all of whom need to start and finish at just the right time. If the home will be lived in during the project, these players must do their jobs with minimal impact on the homeowners’ lives. The professional remodeler has the manpower to smoothly manage all these moving parts, including onsite project managers, office contacts, purchasing agents, designers, and others.
This staffing, along with comprehensive communication and project management systems, means that when multiple jobs are underway, no one has responsibility for more than he or she can handle. No one is overwhelmed.
It stands to reason that when adequate human resources are available, customers get better service, jobs stay on schedule, and the inevitable issues that come up during a lengthy project get addressed more efficiently.
Established, larger custom remodelers also have more leverage with suppliers and subcontractors. We provide more work for our subcontractors than the small operator does, so our jobs get priority. Fair or not, the small company and its clients take a back seat to our phone calls, our requests, and our clients.
Homeowners who hire a well-run company ensure that the final price is the one to which they agreed. That’s because staffing, systems, and relationships mean efficiency. They enable the professional remodeler to complete projects faster than the competition–often months faster if it’s a large project.
The bottom line is that the best company for a complex remodeling project will have the experience and organization needed to handle the work. Hiring a company with the resources needed to do a great job, on time, and with minimal stress can save big and be a better value in the long run.
Todd Allen Miller, Architect
QMA Design+Build, LLC
5000 Boardwalk, Suite 2
Ventnor, NJ 08406
(609) 822-4949 – phone
(609) 822-4429 – fax
NJ New Home Builder License #037561
NJ Home Improvement Contractor #13VH01107300
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