Remodelers to Tout Standout Practices Among Unskilled Laborers

by | 4 minute read

"Fueled large­ly by the rebound­ing hous­ing mar­ket, home improve­ment spend­ing is pro­ject­ed to reach $155 bil­lion this year, sur­pass­ing the peak set in 2006, accord­ing to Harvard’s Joint Cen­ter for Hous­ing Stud­ies. At the same time, the con­struc­tion indus­try is in the throes of a mas­sive labor short­age, hav­ing shed more than 2 mil­lion jobs since 2007."

Demand for home ren­o­va­tion work is swift­ly out­pac­ing the sup­ply of qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als. “It’s got­ten to the point that I’ve had to tell clients that it might be a few months before I can take them on,” says LuAnn Fabi­an, a gen­er­al con­trac­tor based in Her­mosa Beach, Calif.

"Though the num­ber of remod­el­ing pros has declined, there are still less experienced—and less scrupulous—ones out there, accord­ing to a recent sur­vey of 300 gen­er­al con­trac­tors from around the coun­try con­duct­ed by the Con­sumer Reports Nation­al Research Cen­ter," Daniel DiCleri­co writes. "Among the shady indus­try prac­tices gen­er­al con­trac­tors report­ed are con­trac­tors using unskilled labor­ers to car­ry out their work, and win­ning jobs with low­ball bids and then jack­ing up the cost lat­er with “unfore­seen prob­lems.”

This pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the reli­able home remod­el­ers to adver­tise how they are dif­fer­ent! Stand out from the shady com­pe­ti­tion with tele­vi­sion (over-the-air, online, mobile or tablet) spots. Audi­enceS­CAN reports 47.6% of Major Home Remod­el­ing Project Starters took action after see­ing a com­mer­cial in the past 30 days.

Con­sumer Reports' home ren­o­va­tion sur­vey asked the cru­cial ques­tions you might not know to ask, such as: How much wig­gle room is there in the esti­mate? (Hint: more than you may think.) What are the biggest home­own­er mis­takes? How long do projects real­ly take?

The Plan­ning Phase

"Prop­er plan­ning is the best pre­dic­tor of sat­is­fac­tion and will also min­i­mize the num­ber of cost­ly changes you make once the work is under­way. So before you even think of look­ing for a con­trac­tor, you’ll need to spend time gath­er­ing ideas and tak­ing a hard look at your own bud­get. A 2015 report from Houzz, a home-design web­site, found that half of home­own­ers who ren­o­vat­ed their kitchen gath­ered ideas for six months or longer."

Its always best to have the archi­tect and the gen­er­al con­trac­tor work­ing togeth­er right from the start,” says Dawn Zuber, an archi­tect based in Can­ton, Mich.

"Whether you opt for an archi­tect or a design­er, insist on 3D draw­ings: They’ll help you visu­al­ize the remod­eled space bet­ter than flat ele­va­tions will. Cutting-edge design pros are begin­ning to use vir­tu­al real­i­ty soft­ware to cre­ate “immer­sive” spaces that clients can expe­ri­ence by wear­ing a spe­cial head­set. The tech­nol­o­gy isn’t wide­ly avail­able but could soon sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce remodeler’s remorse."

Remod­el­ing busi­ness­es def­i­nite­ly should adver­tise their abil­i­ty to do 3D draw­ings. Try show­ing this off with a dai­ly deal. Audi­enceS­CAN found Major Home Remod­el­ing Project Starters are 71% more like­ly than aver­age con­sumers to take action based on one.

It’s those big deci­sions made in the first 10 to 15 per­cent of the design process that have the most impact on cost,” says Marc Tru­ant, pres­i­dent of a Boston-based design-build firm—the term for remod­el­ing busi­ness­es that pro­vide both the design and con­struc­tion work. “An expe­ri­enced gen­er­al con­trac­tor will help you head off things you can’t afford before you pay for fin­ished draw­ings.”

"Check cre­den­tials. Even if they come with a glow­ing review from your sister-in-law, you still need to check the bona fides of every pro­fes­sion­al on your short list. In our sur­vey, almost a fifth of gen­er­al con­trac­tors lacked either a state license or the prop­er insur­ance, and 9 per­cent lacked both. Though prop­er cre­den­tials aren’t a guar­an­tee of qual­i­ty, they’re a good sign that the gen­er­al con­trac­tor runs a rep­utable busi­ness. What’s more, our sur­vey found that ful­ly accred­it­ed gen­er­al con­trac­tors are bet­ter at hold­ing down costs when unex­pect­ed prob­lems arise."

Con­trac­tors need to pub­lish their cer­ti­fi­ca­tions in mar­ket­ing, as well as make it known to con­sumers that they offer a dis­count on repeat busi­ness. This can be done effec­tive­ly through emails. Audi­enceS­CAN reports 63% of Project Starters took action based on emailed ads or newslet­ters in the past year.

"Keep­ing the busi­ness of a repeat cus­tomer was the biggest rea­son to hag­gle, cit­ed by 75 per­cent of gen­er­al con­trac­tors, who report­ed offer­ing a medi­an dis­count of 10 per­cent. So if there’s more work com­ing down the line, be sure to men­tion that dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions. Com­bin­ing projects could also save you in the long run: Two-thirds of gen­er­al con­trac­tors said they offer dis­counts on jobs involv­ing more than one room (10 per­cent was the medi­an dis­count offered on multi­room projects in our sur­vey)."

"Cov­er your assets. Nine out of 10 gen­er­al con­trac­tors in our sur­vey say they pro­vide a writ­ten guar­an­tee for their work, so insist on one in the con­tract. The medi­an time peri­od was 15½ months, with 14 per­cent of respon­dents promis­ing more than three years of cov­er­age."

Audi­enceS­CAN data is avail­able as part of a sub­scrip­tion to AdMall for Agen­cies, or with the Sales­Fu­el API. Media com­pa­nies can access Audi­enceS­CAN data through the Audi­enceS­CAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Court­ney is the Edi­tor for Sales­Fu­el Today. She ana­lyzes sec­ondary cus­tomer research and our pri­ma­ry Audi­enceS­CAN research. Court­ney is a grad­u­ate of Mid­dle Ten­nessee State Uni­ver­si­ty.