Homeowner Fears and How to Manage Them
Homeowners, before any major remodeling project, are scared. They are filled with fears-usually unwarranted, frequently emotional, and sometimes irrational. There are many reasons that they feel the way they do, but 5 major reasons are reviewed.
- Crooks: Homeowners are afraid they will hire a crook.
Almost every homeowner begins the remodeling process with baggage. If you watch television, read the newspaper, or listen to the radio, you will inevitably read or hear stories about unscrupulous building contractors. In these stories, some unsuspecting homeowner was taken advantage of and it cost them thousands of dollars. Homeowners don’t trust building contractors. They are afraid they will hire a crook, or, they fear that someone working with the contractor will get into their home and “rip them off.”
- Money: Homeowners don’t understand the real cost of remodeling. They are afraid of the “hidden” costs.
Most homeowners do not understand how difficult it is, or how expensive it is, to remodel an older home. Most homeowners have not done this before, so have no idea how to estimate the true cost of their project. It is a difficult and expensive process to integrate the “new” with the old. This process is made even more difficult because of the uncertainties that arise during the remodeling process. Dry rot, termite damage, bad electrical wiring, and insufficient load bearing capacity are problems that are frequently exposed once a project has begun. Whether planned for or not, these problems must all be fixed.
- Disappointment: After extended design time, and a lot of money, homeowners are afraid: “It’s not what I wanted!”
In working with hundreds of homeowners over the years, I’ve made a very important discovery: Homeowners can work with a set of plans for months, but with 90% of the homeowners I worked with, they did not fully understand what their project would look like until the walls started going up. The 2 dimensional reality presented on building plans is not enought for most homeowners to truly visualize what their project will look like when it’s done. Most homeowners fear, that after spending all that time and money, they won’t have what they wanted.
- Disruption: Homeowners are afraid of the disruption that remodeling brings.
Remodeling is a tremendously disruptive process. A homeowner can be without a kitchen for weeks, or longer. They can be without a bathroom for weeks, or longer. A major remodeling project can disrupt just about every routine a family may follow. It’s also a very invasive process. A psychiatrist I know, who himself went through a major renovation on his own home, said it was one of the most difficult times in his marriage.
- Control: Homeowners fear losing control of both their home and finances during the remodeling process.
Due to all the factors I’ve reviewed above, many homeowners express the fear that once their home remodeling project begins, that the all the unknowns involved leave them with a feeling of “being out of control.” This is a very fearful time for many people. Their home is usually one of their biggest investments, and they’re spending a lot of money. They want guarantees. Home remodeling involves unknowns. Remodeling contractors can’t always provide the kinds of guarantees that homeowners want. They have to trust their contractor.
- It’s a process, not a product: A good remodeler understands they are not just selling a product-they are also selling a process. The best ones understand they must manage the process, as well as manage the project. Homeowners need to be guided through the remodeling process, every step of the way. They need to trust that their contractor will always be there for them, no matter what.
- Create a paper trail: Do what you can to assist homeowners in understanding what is happening. You can’t document too much. Provide a simple schedule that you review each week
- The 4 elements of trust: Homeowners desperately want to trust their remodeling contractor. If a contractor understands the 4 elements of trust, and practices them honestly, most major problems will be avoided. The 4 elements of trust are:
- Homeowners are emotional: Experienced contractors realize a major remodeling project is an emotional time for homeowners. Good remodelers expect this. They gear their efforts towards reducing homeowner fears, and dealing with the inevitable upsets. Emotional homeowners are not the exception-they are the rule. It comes with the territory.
There are some things a good remodeling contractor can do to help a homeowner through this process:
–Consistency: Remodeling contractors need to set, and follow, consistent routines.
–Honesty: Tell homeowners what’s going to happen each week, and acknowledge mistakes.
–Promise Keeping: Contractors must keep their word. They must fulfill on the promises they make.
–Reassurance: Good remodeling contractors reassure homeowners on a regular basis. Homeowners want to know their contractor will be there for them every step of the way.