I saw a survey on Houzz.com and I felt compelled to comment on it. The survey showed the Top 5 Challenges homeowners face when renovating, specifically kitchen renovation. Here, in order, are the Top 5 Challenges homeowners report when renovating:

Finding the Right Products 40%
Defining My Style 29%
Making Decisions With My Spouse or Partner 26%
Staying on Schedule 21%
Educating Myself 21%

While all these things can cause a homeowner to feel stressed during a renovation, I believe they can all be considered an effect rather than a cause. In other words, the homeowners have overlooked what I consider to be the biggest challenge… choosing the right home improvement specialist. That did not even make the survey, but here is how I make sure my clients don’t face these challenges alone.

The number one challenge homeowners reported was finding the right products; nearly half of the people surveyed. I really believe this challenge should not come up at all. Most reputable contractors have a variety of products from which to choose. My challenge, and a big part of what sets me apart, is suggesting which of my products will best meet my clients’ needs. I cannot do that if I do not know the “whole story”. That is why I specialize in taking care of the entire project. When someone tries to piece a project together, one hand never lets the other know what is going on. When I handle the entire project, I can make sure all the pieces fit together. It is extremely important to select a home improvement specialist who can handle every facet of the renovation.

Defining my style will come up at two key times in our design process. First, general ideas are discussed during our initial consultation. This is so we can accurately discuss budget requirements, job schedules, and other job details during this stage of the project. It is not necessary for people to bog down the design process at this time with tiny details like, door edge profiles, glaze options, and grout color. Those details do need to be looked at once we are much further along in the design process, and I make sure to cover each one at the right time.

I can help my clients with their decision making. Similar to defining style, we will tackle this at the right time. Each decision made helps me assist my client with the next one. For example, if my clients pick a granite color they like for their counter top, I can rule out tile backsplash colors that do not go with the granite. Once the tile is selected, I can almost pinpoint the right grout to use. I make sure I cover each of these details with my clients, in a way that does not overwhelm them with too much information at a time.

Staying on schedule could be a topic for an article all by itself. In an attempt to be brief; reputation, references, complete and professional paperwork (processes) are just a few ways to make sure homeowners know what to expect during a renovation.

Thanks to the internet, there is a plethora of information available to homeowners today. But, information does not necessarily equal knowledge. A homeowner can look at a cabinet manufacturers catalog on line, but a designer knows how to create a personalized space. Counter top manufacturers websites show all the colors available, but does not show how to coordinate the tops with other products in the kitchen. Appliances specs are shown on line, but will they meet the needs of the homeowner while still fitting in the space?

When I meet a potential client for the first time, my goal is not to leave the meeting with an exact design and signed contract. I want the homeowner to have all the information they need to decide if they wish to work with me. During the design phase I don’t want to say, “Look at this great design, sign here”. I want to blend my clients’ wants and needs with my knowledge and expertise, to design the perfect room for them. During the renovation, I want to keep in contact with my client, to keep them informed of our progress. So my best advice on how to avoid the Top 5 Challenges is to make sure you are confident in the abilities of your home improvement specialist. He or she is the best way to make sure you are completely satisfied with the outcome.