Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Homeowner and Contractor – Remodeling Partners

In any home remodeling project there are two parties involved – the client and the contractor. The client is the homeowner – the one who lives in the home that is to be remodeled and who is paying for all the work that is to be done. It is he who has identified the areas where change is needed. The modifications that are planned are based on his intimate knowledge of the needs of the family that lives in the home and his desire to make everyone as comfortable and happy as possible.

The contractor is the one who will actually execute the project and gives the homeowner the home he wants. Based on his experience and qualifications he may not like some of the client’s ideas. And realizing that the client is making a mistake, he may suggest alternatives that, in his experience, will be better for the client and his family.

It is here that problems between the two key players in the remodeling project can arise.

The Rigid Client

No one knows his family, their likes and needs as well as the homeowner. And no one gives their best interests more importance than he does. That is never going to be in dispute. But when he makes up his mind that his way is the only way and that anything else is wrong, that is where problems arise. A major home remodel can be a complex engineering and construction undertaking. The average homeowner will normally not have the specialized knowledge to appreciate the technical issues involved. That is why some of the ideas and concepts that he wants to be incorporated in the project may not be viable. When a contactor says that a certain aspect of the remodel is not possible or suggests and alternative solution, the homeowner could lend an ear, not insist that it is his house and he wants things done his way. That kind of attitude will antagonize the contractor and that is an invitation to disaster.

The Unbending Contractor

An inflexible contractor is an equal problem. He may be highly qualified and experienced and know that many of the client’s ideas may not be workable. He may know that doing things the way the client wants them done will result in a remodeled home that will not work, will not look good and on which money will have been wasted. His effort to get the client to change his mind may be in the client’s best interest. And he will not want to be part of a remodeling project that ends up as a failure.

The contractor must realize that the client is the major stakeholder and that he must be given reasons and logical arguments to enable him to change his mind. The client must be given full and complete justification for any change to his plans. Simply saying that something will not work or that it is not the way the contractor does things will not suffice. Clients will not have the technical background to understand the finer issues and the contractor needs to be patient and go the extra mile to explain everything in a way that the reasons and implications of his suggestions can be clearly understood. 

Two Sides to Every Issue

When everyone understands that there are two (or more) sides to every issue and that no one is always going to be right, things move in the right direction. When both client and contractor know their own minds but are respectful of the other’s knowledge, needs and imperatives, a strong working relationship will develop. And it is this kind of powerful partnership that results in the best home remodeling outcomes.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Can You Really See Your Home?

In school many of us came across a line from an old poem that said – “Give us the power to see ourselves as others see us.” It’s true that our perception of ourselves is often at variance with how other people perceive us. And we do make efforts to be objective about ourselves as a part of an effort of self-improvement. But where many of us fail is in being able to see our homes as others see them.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Our homes are our most valuable possessions – not just in monetary terms but also in the security they provide us and the quality of life we are able to lead because of them. But it is all too easy to take our homes for granted. We see them every day, day in and day out. We like the little eccentricities that all homes develop over time. We revel in the familiarity that sameness and a lack of change cause. All in all, we begin to believe that comfort and security equals the need to keep things unchanged.

But that is not so. Familiarity can lead to a lack of appreciation of the true condition of a home. A broken tile or two may not be a major issue. But when they are coupled with many other small defects and problems around the house, the overall appearance of the home can be impacted.

Just as it is difficult for a person to see himself as others see him, so too it is often next to impossible for those living in a home to evaluate its true condition and how it looks. What may seem nice and comfortable to those who live in the house may appear to be defective and shabby to outsiders.

The Opinions of Others

It is easy to say that the opinions of those who do not live in the house are of little importance. But it is these opinions that provide the objective viewpoint upon which improvement efforts are based. If you have been living in a house for a length of time, it is a good idea to spend time making an inventory of the problem areas – thing that do not look nice, those that do not work and areas where change is required. Then ask a few close friends, those whose opinions you value, to go around your home and suggest areas of improvement.

You will be surprised at the number of things that are noted which you had overlooked because you are so familiar with them that they are no longer noticed.

With these suggestions, you now have a foundation upon which a remodeling plan can be developed. But do not think that you no longer need inputs on what needs to be done to your home. If you have a good and experienced remodeling contractor, he will be able to give you more ideas for improvements, based on his technical expertise. Add these concepts to your plan and you will now have a comprehensive list of things to do as part of your remodel.

Many of these may not be possible because of budgetary constraints or technical reasons, and compromise will be required. But at the end of the remodeling project, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that nothing was overlooked or not considered and that the best possible job, given the time and resources available, has been done. And that is the best result you can expect.