J.Schwartz,llc Construction Blog (PAHIC#861)

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Be careful who you invite into your home!

In this market, experienced Remodelers and Custom Home Builders are crossing paths with businesses that have no experience with the types of projects that we have been doing for years. When the economy took a downward turn and speculative home-building began to dry up, many of these production builders looked for a way to stay in business. Many have ended up trying their hand at remodeling – as did roofers, framers, trimmers, etc. – most of them have no experience with the specialized skill-set that quality Remodeling takes; and as the first of the projects that they have contracted are moving along, we are getting phone calls…
We have all heard the horror stories related to home builders; and the unfortunate truth is that many of them are true. As horrified as we (J.Schwartz,llc) are each time we hear about one of these, when we hear the back story we almost always think “if it is too good to be true, it most likely is…” and the particular events were avoidable with just a bit of due-diligence on the part of the homeowner. Of course I am not by any means, saying that homeowner is responsible for the problems that occurred – they were most likely “taken” buy a dishonest person, or bad businessman that had no business offering a service that were not qualified to undertake.
Remodeling is a specialized skill that takes a person/ business that is dedicated to the passion that working in someone’s home takes. It is so far from production building and the subcontract trades (roofing, siding, framing, etc.), that there is little that even links them; and that goes for custom home building, as well – it is very specialized. After all, you wouldn’t go to a podiatrist if you broke your arm, right? That may not be too far of a stretch if you go to someone for your remodel that does not have the expertise that it DEMANDS.
It seems that for the past four years, at just about this time of the year (as spring hits), J.Schwartz,llc gets about a half-dozen calls from homeowners that need to be “bailed out” of one of these bad situations – and fortunately (or unfortunately), we know how to handle these terrible debacles.
We understand that there are a lot of “loose-ends” in projects like these, there may be things that were done improperly, and some things that were supposedly done, that were not done (or even started), at all. It is of paramount importance that these things be clearly laid out, and that the overall scope of the “new” project be clearly listed. I say “new” project, because there needs to be a clear line between the work that was “done” and the work to be done. This is not “finishing” a project, but starting a new one, with a completely new set of issues that demand complete transparency, clarity and understanding.
It is important to have some long conversations about the project – about the original plans, about things that may have changed, and about what is actually, physically built already – and most of all, about EXPECTATIONS. It is important to be open about issues (both the homeowner and the contractor must be open), and honest about the new project.
It is usually not pleasant to be the bearer of the pricing when these “new projects” are priced – because it almost always seems that the cost to get the home finished, is more than the cost would have been had the original builder finished his project – and that may actually be one of the reasons why the original contract went bad; the agreed upon contract amount was just too low to actually complete the home, i.e., “it was just too good to be true…” in the first place.
You see, you may have gotten three bids, maybe even 5, and maybe the lowest one was 20% less than the highest. Maybe three of the five were not even qualified to give you a bid? Did you go with the lowest bid? Was that bid 5% or more less than the “pack” of bids? Maybe the numbers were telling you something – SCREAMING at you, that something was not right – maybe not dishonest (?), but not right… there may have been something missing from that bid – intentionally or not… I would say that if your pricing from a qualified group of bidders is more than 5% different, then there is something wrong. Maybe my competition missed something? Maybe they purposely under-bid to get the job, thinking that they will gouge later with change orders? Who knows… but there is something wrong.
You see, there are associated costs that quality remodelers like J. Schwartz,llc know – and we know that we are sometimes bidding against others – and paramount to that, we are honest. Our pricing will be fair and honest; and our work will be of the utmost quality.
To sum it all up – be careful who you invite into your home – they can make a real mess of things; and if you are unfortunate enough to be in one of these situations, we are happy to help you get out of it.

posted by Joe Schwartz - J. Schwartz,llc at 1:20 pm  

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