Home improvement is a significant investment both financially and emotionally and it is common for homeowners embarking on their project to choose their Pro based almost exclusively on the cheapest bid. Unfortunately, some contractors will low-ball their bid by intentionally leaving out necessary items as a strategy to get hired. They know that they can make up the difference during the project with multiple Change Order requests. In most cases, the homeowners will give in and approve the Change Orders because the project has already started, and it seems too late to find a new Pro.
As you can see, putting too much emphasis on comparing bids between Pros may mean that you don’t end up hiring a great Pro. As important as the budget is, there are other important considerations before you agree to an estimate: Are you and the Pro compatible to collaborate together? Do they respect and value you? Do you trust them?
At first glance, these may feel like bonus questions more than foundational deciding factors. What difference does it make if they rub you the wrong way so long as they come highly recommended and their portfolio shows quality? It makes a big difference. Your remodel is unique, and the quality of work is affected by the quality of the collaboration between your vision and your Pro’s execution.
Maybe the neighbor’s home turned out so great precisely because of how well their personality, values, needs, and priorities meshed with that Pro. Based on her 18 years of experience in the construction industry, Sarah Henry, Owner and General Manager of Gaspar’s Construction, in her interview with Revivify podcast, advises that “Often homeowners get really stuck on the budget question; they're selecting contractors based on what they hear from a numbers standpoint. And I think it's really important that people get a sense of what their budget is.
“But if you can at all put that on the shelf for making decisions, I highly, highly recommend it. Because the numbers that homeowners get are rough, they vary wildly, depending on the perception of the person who's sitting across the table from them until the project is actually designed. So I would really focus on personality and fit. And does the conversation move smoothly? Do they feel like they're being listened to?”
Since most sizable home construction projects involve months of working together, it is vital that you choose a Pro that matches you in three major categories:
- Project Needs
A Pro That Fits Your Project Needs
You need a Pro who is experienced in the type of work you’re having done and can bring their specialized knowledge to the job. For example, what if you wanted to have a performance shower built in your bathroom.
A bathroom designer, a design firm that deals with bathrooms, or a builder who specializes in them will have more experience and information that can save you a lot of headaches early on in the process by asking knowledgeable questions. If you don’t have a Pro who can tackle issues specific to your project type, you could end up spending twice as much money correcting them after the job has been done than if you had hired the right person to begin with.
A handyman or a GC may be able to do the work physically, but would they know to check the size of your hot water tank or to find out if you have well or town water? A performance shower emits roughly 2 gallons of water a minute, which means that a 25-gallon hot water tank will give you a 10 minute hot shower, while a standard well will not be able to keep up with the supply, resulting in a trickle of water from each source.
Aligned Priorities With Your Pro
It’s essential that you and your Pro have aligned priorities on some major issues, and yes, this includes the budget. First, do you know what your priorities are for your remodel? What’s most important to you between budget, time, style? If your Pro doesn’t have time to start for 6 months but you really want your project done before an important date, that might be your answer.
Have you looked at the Pro’s portfolio and do you connect with their work? Regardless of the type of Pro you’re working with, they will lean towards a particular look. If you don’t like their past work, there’s no reason to think that you will like their work on your ideas. On the other hand, a Pro whose style you connect with can elevate your personal style to another level.
And yes, what about the budget? Sarah Henry has some great insight, “I really want to understand the clients before we're helping them figure out what the right budget range is. And we always start our design process with a budget range that we have mutually agreed upon. I like to say if the number range is slightly uncomfortable for both the client and for me that we've probably hit the perfect number. Because the reality is most for most homeowners, their wish list exceeds their budget. And so our job is to help them prioritize that wish list to make their dream project a reality.”
Your budget is another great reason to have a strong connection with your Pro; you’re trusting them to guide you in spending your budget to the best realization of your dreams. When you know your budget range, pick a Pro that is excited about what they can accomplish within your parameters. Sarah let us in on another great secret to know about your Pro when you’re talking budget. “I probably am going to spend it all, but it's not because I'm figuring out how to charge you more. It's because I'm figuring out how we can fit as much of your wish list as possible into that budget.” Find the Pro that you believe has your best interest at heart.
A Pro That Fits Your Personality
And finally, but possibly most importantly, pick someone who gets you, someone you vibe with. Choose the Pro you feel excited to work with, and are inspired by their input to your vision. You have the right to turn down a qualified Pro just because you aren’t feeling it.
You might want to talk to a Pro about their client guiding style, how do they lead clients when they get stuck on a decision? Discuss how much input they typically have with design decisions. For instance, do they present you with a completed design and have you confirm it? Or will you make most of the decisions, and they’ll give you guidance when you ask for it?
Sarah Henry reminds us that updating your home is an emotionally significant experience. Don’t jump into it with someone that’s going to make it a significantly frustrating experience, “Remodeling your home is an extremely personal experience. So that relationship that you develop with your remodeler, hopefully, is a good one. But it's personal, and we end up becoming a member of your family for a period of time. So it's important that we enjoy each other's company.”
Matchmaking With BEYREP
There are a lot of reasons why it’s essential to use the right Pro for you and your project. Consider the Pro you hire as choosing your co-worker for the next 6 months. You might think fondly of an experience with a co-worker who became a best friend. Remember the difference between coworkers you couldn’t wait to lose contact with and coworkers who became dear friends. The quality and joy of work is affected by who you’re working with.
Your updated home is going to be a daily reminder of your remodel story, whether it is positive or frustrating. It is trickier to find a Pro based on whether they work well with you than it is to find a Pro that says they can do the job for the price you hoped.
That’s where BEYREP comes in. When you sign up for BEYREP you’ll be asked questions that are more in-depth than “What’s your project?” and “What’s your budget?” We ask about your priorities, your work style, a little about your personality. We’ve already asked corresponding questions of all our Pros. These essential questions mean that our smart matchmaking feature doesn’t just find Pros near you, it suggests Pros that you’re most likely to connect with. When you’re partnered with the right person, even obstacles become a positive experience.