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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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Planning a Home Remodel to Perfection in 5 Steps

Whether you’re looking to revamp a single room or rehaul your entire house, planning a home remodel can be an intimidating prospect — especially if you’re new to the process. Not only are remodeling projects a commitment financially, but they can also potentially affect occupants mentally and emotionally as normal routines are disrupted. Once work has begun, it’s extremely difficult to reverse course, so it’s imperative that you:

  1. Have a clear concept of wants vs needs (within the range of possibility)
  2. Can locate the financial and human resources to execute your vision
  3. Are able to make the appropriate adjustments to day-to-day life while work is being completed.  

In other words, it pays to be prepared. Find out how to plan your next home remodel to perfection by following the steps below. 

1. Establish a vision

In an ideal universe, what would you want from the space you’re thinking about remodeling? Which of those things are luxuries, and which are necessities? Would your home’s current layout and footprint be able to physically and/or legally accommodate these changes? Sketch things out. Make a wish list and prioritize it. If you or someone you live with is handy, ask if there’s any part of it that you’d be willing or comfortable to do yourself. The clearer and more realistic your preliminary vision, the better it will be when it comes to choosing and communicating with future contractors. 

2. Set a budget

It is a good idea to review valid resources such as ‘Cost Vs Value’ to gain better insights as to what projects costs both regionally and nationally.  A tremendous labor shortage in all aspects of the trades has led to greater costs along with increases in all building materials that we don’t see ending anytime soon.  Be realistic with your remodeling contractor as it will help them better determine the scope of work you are considering and the level of finishes that may best suit your needs and your budget.  A reputable firm will make every effort to spell out the details in a well-formed contract and supporting collateral, but there are occasions when unforeseen issues arise so it is best to have a contingency fund.

3. Hire contractors

Once you have a grasp of what things cost and what you can comfortably afford, you’re ready to choose a home remodeling contractor for your job — but more importantly, the right home remodeling contractor for your job. In case you missed our previous blog post, here is a recap of the main things to consider:

  1. Do they have the capabilities? (manpower, equipment, experience)
  2. Are they reputable?
  3. Are you located within their service area? 
  4. Are they properly licensed, certified, and insured?

If you’ve done your research and like the answers to the above questions, then it’s time to hammer out a contract on the project scope and timeline. 

4. Solidify a timeline

Project timelines can be a sensitive subject — on the one hand, there is your desire to have the work done quickly; on the other, there is the contractor’s obligation to do the work correctly (and well). While none of us want to overstay our welcome, we definitely do not want to take shortcuts and potentially botch the jobs we were hired for.

At Ayars Complete Home Improvements, we find the best way of managing this tension is through communication. It seems so simple, but it makes such a tremendous difference. It’s up to both sides to establish realistic expectations that account for:

  • The size and scope of the project
  • Availability of labor and materials
  • Our workload and schedule
  • Major events in your life and your schedule
  • The time of year
  • Special considerations relating to household members, neighbors, zoning laws and clearances, etc.

We take great care to be upfront and transparent with our customers about project progress and outlook, and will never take on a job that we’re not mutually ready for. 

5. Reorganize accordingly

Congratulations! A project timeline is settled and the work has a firm scope and start date. Now that you know what’s coming and when, your household can mentally and physically prepare for what’s ahead.

If you’re planning for a home remodel that involves a part of the house that is seldom used (finishing a basement) — or doesn’t exist yet (an addition, deck, or patio enclosure) — you may be able to carry on life mostly as normal. 

If you’re planning a home remodel that majorly affects the functionality and operation of your household, such as the kitchen, you’ll have to contemplate whether you’re okay with running a makeshift galley in another room, eating a lot of takeout, or borrowing a gracious friend or family member’s. And obviously, if the only bathroom in the house is being remodeled, you may want to investigate an alternative living arrangement temporarily. 

In either case, you’ll want to reorganize things (at least 1-2 weeks in advance) so that you and your contractor can comfortably coexist for the length of the project, ensuring everyone and everything comes out of the experience happy and intact. 

Remodeling consultations with Ayars

Ayars is proud that we’re so consistently in South Jersey’s plans for home remodeling projects and is planning on a busy 2022. As you consider the long-term vision for your home, we hope you’ll continue to consider us in the years to come.