There are many ways of going about a home remodel. You can DIY, pick a remodeling company out of the phone book, get referrals from friends, and contact big box stores that claim to do everything and have the best prices around. While not everyone’s first choice, big box stores can be an attractive solution for homeowners hoping to remodel on a budget. After all, a big box store usually has things for cheaper than the competitors. Sure, it’s not always the highest end product, but if you aren’t designing a showcase, you may be tempted. The reality is that when you have the big box store design your new living space, and you purchase the material through them, they may insist that you use their contractors as well. While on the surface this seems like a great idea, it can lead you into a few compromising situations.
Limited or Lack of Screening
When you hire a Pro on your own, you typically go through a screening process with them. You ask for references, their license, and any other qualifications they may have. When you hire a Pro through a big box store, however, you’re assuming that the store has vetted the Pro for you. This is one of the reasons why it can be so tempting to use them; it seems like fewer headaches.
Unfortunately, many big box stores don’t always vet the contractors they recommend. Some of those contractors are on a list because they stopped by the Pro Services desk and dropped off a business card. Others may do a lot of business with the store, and ask for referrals in return. Almost none of these contractors actually work for the store in question, except in rare instances such as appliance installation.
This means that you are taking a serious gamble if you just hire the recommended Pro without any screening on your end.
Lack of Connection
Because the contractors that get work through the big box stores aren’t being screened, and are getting plenty of work thrown their way, they have less incentive to keep you happy and make a positive connection with you. A Pro you hire on your own may share your vision, want repeat business from you, and is likely hoping for portfolio pictures and a recommendation when he’s done. The big box contractor doesn’t always need these things from you, so he’s less likely to provide the same kind of service.
While purchasing a new kitchen through a big box store is usually the less expensive way to go, hiring someone they recommend isn’t always the least expensive way to have it put in. Because these Pros are getting recommendations from what appears to be a trusted source, they don’t have to be as competitive with pricing. This means that they may actually charge you more per hour than a Pro you hire on your own. While it’s true that most of the recommended Pros have some experience working with the type of material or product the big box store sells, there are countless other Pros out there that likely have the same experience, plus better customer service for a lower price.
Make the Right Match
It’s tempting to go the easy way when it comes to home improvements. However, this isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Be mindful when you choose big box store Pros, take the time to screen them, and compare them to others before making your decision.