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The Biggest Home Remodeling Mistake to Avoid

What do homeowners really think about contractors?

Each year, Lowe’s attempts to answer this question with its annual State of the Pro report, a collection of insights gleaned from a survey of 1,000 homeowners and 1,000 contracting professionals. From our side of things, it really helps crystallize how we might improve home improvement — and in particular the customer experience. What do homeowners hope will go right? What do they fear might go wrong? And how do we change their doubt into confidence?

There is a lot in the report to unpack, but the most important takeaway was this: the biggest home remodeling mistakes to avoid all stem from a lack of preparation. What this means for you as a homeowner is doing your homework, whether you are taking on a project yourself or searching for a reliable contractor. Don’t DIY projects you aren’t confident you can DIY, and don’t hire a contractor who cannot meet expectations.

What to expect from a contractor that’s right for you

According to the State of the Pro report, home improvement professionals are generally held in high esteem — 78 percent of homeowners believe our kind deserves more respect, with 73 percent agreeing there’s a greater need for us than ever before. About 69 percent of them said the pandemic deepened their appreciation for the trades, likely due to both more time spent at home (and thus more things to find fault with) and also an industry-wide shortage of laborers.

Nonetheless, homeowners still have their reservations about what to expect from a contractor. In the State of the Pro survey, homeowners were asked to list the biggest challenges they had working with home improvement professionals. Here’s what they said, and how a reliable remodeling contractor (such as Ayars) will help navigate them.

Communication

Perhaps more than anything, transparency matters. Communication (or lack thereof) was at the root of most of the respondents’ frustrations, especially relating to:

  • Project cost: 61% of homeowners cited as a major challenge; 21% cited as a minor challenge
  • Project deadlines: 45% said delays were a major challenge; 36% said they were minor. About 37% of respondents were majorly frustrated by contractors not working within the timeframe expected (39 percent were mildly agitated).
  • Correspondence: 60% said non-responsive contractors were a major challenge, 21% said it was a minor challenge.

As this customer can attest, communication is a point of emphasis with the Ayars team:

“Working with Ayars was an absolute pleasure. They were very thorough and professional when they came out to do the initial estimate. During the construction process, they communicated frequently to keep us up to date with progress. The work area was kept neat and they really stuck to the timeline. The finished product was behind what we could have expected! Our basement looks amazing! I would highly recommend checking out their work- truly beautiful work AND amazing people to work with!” — Jason Bintliff

Credentials/certification

One of the key checklist items in choosing the right home remodeling contractor is ensuring that they are certified to perform every service they claim to offer. They should also carry liability insurance and furnish worker’s compensation to their employees (so that anything and/or anyone that is damaged on your property is not your legal responsibility).

Sixty percent of the Lowe’s survey respondents said that it was a major challenge working with a contractor that didn’t stand behind their work, with no form of warranty or quality assurance. If a contractor isn’t proud to show off their work, and confident they will do their job successfully, why use them?

Look for the proof, on the contractor’s service pages, portfolio pages, or in reviews from past customers:

“We have used Ayars services for several projects at three different homes. They consistently provide outstanding service exceeding our expectations. From roofing, windows and trim work to a complete remodel of our kitchen, living and dining rooms their work is exceptional. They show up on time, are considerate and clean up after themselves. Josh is always available to make sure you are happy with the services being provided. It shows that they take pride in what they do. We will definitely look to them again for our next project.” – Roseann Trendler

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Skills/craftmanship

It’s one thing for a contractor to do the jobs they say they can do; it’s another thing to do them exceptionally well. A distressing 64% of the State of the Pro respondents said they had been majorly dissatisfied with the work a professional did on their house (16% were at least displeased). A truly skilled remodeling contractor will leave you impressed withtheir handiwork, and turn a first-time customer into a repeat customer!

“This is our second time using Ayars Complete Home Improvements, and my husband and I wouldn’t use anyone else. We have had our master and guest bathrooms remodeled, and the entire project from planning to completion was seamless. Chip and Josh are perfectionists when it comes to design layout and installation. They are hands on and with our last remodel this summer, Josh was by at least once a week during the three weeks it took to complete construction. All of their employees – Chuck, Butch, and Eric – were attentive to what we wanted and made the entire process less stressful.” — Mariellen Kerns

Professionalism and respect

Homeowners hate a disorganized professional (51% strongly dislike, 29% mildly dislike), one that leaves a mess or leaves them hanging. Ayars takes tremendous pride in leaving each customer’s home better than we found it, being respectful of your property, neighborhood, and all the people in it. From start to finish, it is our hope that you won’t mind — and may even learn to enjoy — having us around, as did this customer:

“Ayars were absolutely spectacular from their designs, communication, craftsmanship, professionalism, and price point. They’ve been absolutely wonderful at answering our questions and concerns and were flexible with our wishes and wants. I would recommend them for any large or small home improvement projects.” — Nick Schober

Ayars makes it easy

Home remodeling shouldn’t be a headache. There’s a reason why Ayars is one of the most trusted and reliable contractors in all of South Jersey, and we are confident that our work speaks for itself.

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Updating a House: Determining Whether Your Remodel Is a Want or a Need

Whether it’s early on or decades into homeownership, many of us will think about updating a house at some point or another. There are those of us, too, that get so accustomed to our surroundings that we begin to ignore or neglect a dire need for change. But is now a good time to remodel your home, should you wait, or should you start over entirely?

Your best approach, of course, will depend on how much of your house needs updating, how significant you want those updates to be, and whether your budget can accommodate them. 

Why would you want to remodel vs. buying a new home?

Remodeling a home you already own can present several advantages over buying a new home

  1. Your neighbors and your neighborhood have a direct impact on your quality of life — if you enjoy where you’re at currently, there’s no guarantee you would have the same luck following a move.
  2. If you have a family, uprooting can be very disruptive, especially to younger children. 
  3. Selling your home — and consequently finding a new one — can be a time-consuming and expensive process when factoring in real estate agent commissions, closing costs, and the fact you may need to make fixes or upgrades to your home anyway in order to sell.
  4. Familiarity — over time, we become well acquainted with our home’s admirable qualities and its shortcomings. Therefore, when you plan a remodel, you’ll have a much better idea of how to play up the good and minimize the bad.

When to remodel: minor issues vs. major issues

So how do you know when to remodel your home? In a perfect world, the answer would be “whenever you feel like it” — but money and the pull of career and family and life can drastically sway timetables and priorities. Depending on the season and the remodeling job you have in mind, it is very possible that your preferred home remodeling contractor may not be available. For this reason, it may be wise to save interior home remodeling projects for the winter when there is less demand. 

Less dire reasons for remodeling would include aesthetic or cosmetic updates — and to that end, some of these are easy enough to make yourself (painting, swapping out switch covers, door knobs, and/or light fixtures). More dire reasons for remodeling relate to how your home is functioning — does it seem too small or too big? Are your cohabitants bumping into one another in the kitchen or fighting over the bathroom? Perhaps the areas for work and play are not well distinguished or separated.

Other reasons you might have for remodeling, such as a leaking roof or rotting floors, would be better classified as home repairs. Obviously, these items should be addressed before planning more topical updates.

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When would I be better off buying a new home?

When updating your house starts to look like transforming it into something unrecognizable, or something it can never be, then you might be better off buying a new home. For example, if you have only a tiny piece of property to work with, you’re never going to be able to create that outdoor living space or build that home addition you’ve been dreaming of. If you really want an open concept and your existing structure can’t support that, then perhaps you’re best served to look elsewhere. And of course, if that existing structure has suffered major damages due to wind, fire, or water, remodeling may no longer even be an option. 

Complete home improvements with Ayars

Your home may have more to offer than you think. If you don’t know that yet, then perhaps after a consultation with Ayars Complete Home Improvements you will. Over the course of 50 years, we’ve worked with hundreds of homeowners throughout South Jersey on projects great and small. It’s not that we’re mind readers, it’s just that we’ve spent a lot of time listening to what’s on your mind.
And remember, if you have any further questions or concerns, we are only a quick phone call or message away.