19 Secrets to Smart Home Remodeling (Part One)

Hi, I’m Tracy Tesmer, President and owner of Tracy Tesmer
Design/Remodel. According to the Consumer Federation of America, complaints
against home improvement companies are up another 20% this year. Heck, our
industry gets more complaints than telemarketers! Strangely enough, my own
company has grown thanks to these amateur hacks. You see, in Hall County
we’re the people homeowners call after they’ve had a bad experience with
another contractor. We’ve heard the horror stories, we’ve finished the
projects, and we’ve put dream homes back together again.

As host of The Home Improvement Show on WDUN, and one of the
most respected remodeling contractors in North Georgia,
I feel an obligation to help homeowners identify the “fly-by-night”
contractors before it’s too late. That’s why I’ve created this new report
entitled “19 Secrets to Smart Home Remodeling”. It will show you how
to separate the crooks from the honest craftsmen. I’ve even included three
separate bonus sections which will come in handy the next time you’re looking
for a contractor. 

After reviewing this guide, if you have questions about your
remodeling project, please feel free to call me directly at 678-450-1700. I’ll
be happy to answer all of your questions.

How Contractors Try
to Win Your Business

Unscrupulous contractors play a lot of games to get your deposit.
This section will give you a feel for some of the more common scams that I have
heard over the years.

How to Spot Home
Improvement Scams


Secret #1: Offering
Today Only Discounts

If a contractor ever tells you the price is available for
“today only”, it’s time to show him the door. Quite often they’ll
provide you with a story that by signing today you’re entitled to a “model
home” or “advertising discount”. The story centers on the need
to use your home as a model to advertise their services in the neighborhood.
Don’t be fooled! They mark their prices up and give you a false discount. This
is an old trick used to pressure homeowners into making a quick decision. This
is your money we’re talking about! Quickly ask these salespeople to leave! 

Secret #2: Using High
Pressure Sales

You should never feel pressured into making a decision about
choosing your contractor. If you ever feel that a contractor or salesman is
pressuring you, ask them to back off and if they persist, its time to look for
another contractor. High pressure usually leads to a bad decision when
remodeling. A qualified, reputable professional would never pressure anyone
into a project. 

Secret #3: Working
the Neighborhood

Watch out for “door to door” contractors. These
people may not be contractors at all. They should have I.D. badges with their
pictures, and be wearing some garment that has their company name on it. Never
allow them into your home until you have checked them out thoroughly! I can’t
stress this enough. It was recently reported that two men claiming to be
contractors entered into a home, and while one took the homeowner on a pretend
inspection, the other was going through purses and picking up items that could
be sold quickly. Some contractors working in your area may put out flyers or
come to your door soliciting additional work in the area. These contractors may
be honest, reputable people. But you should not invite them in. Instead,
politely ask them for their business card and the name, address, and telephone
number of the people they are doing work for in the neighborhood. Then make an
appointment with that homeowner to take a look at the quality of their work. 

Secret #4: Saying
“Yes” to Everything (Until they get your check)

Watch out for contractors who say yes to all of your ideas
and don’t give you feedback. A contractor that has reasonable experience should
be able to listen to your ideas, anticipate problems, and offer creative
solutions. For example, you may want to expand your kitchen space by moving a
wall. A poor contractor would just give you a price and start tearing down the
wall. A good contractor would notice that it’s a load bearing wall and that you
can’t remove it without jeopardizing the whole house. 

A “Yes Man” is out to close the business deal, not
to develop a long-term relationship with you. A truly exceptional contractor will
begin with your goals (not your ideas), as he leverages his skills and
experience, and develop a design that helps you achieve those goals.

Secret #5: Playing
the Image Game

Some contractors love to present themselves as a very
“hands on” business owner who personally handles every aspect of the
project. That’s how they justify showing up late to your appointment, with
disorganized sales materials, and covered in sawdust. They’ll say that they
were helping out at another customer’s project. In reality, they’ve underbid
the project and now find themselves working as one of the construction crew to
save a few bucks. Beware of the “hands on” contractor – he is probably
in over his head.


That concludes the first part in my series on “19 Secrets to
Smart Home Remodeling”. In the next episode, we will look at more ways
unscrupulous contractors try to win your business, and discuss four key points
to look for when you start working with a contractor.