Customers expect a high level of care when they hire a building company for a new or remodeling project. Managing customer expectations is something that established home builders understand how to do well. John Ricks, the founder of R.H. Homes, Ltd. has been in the construction industry for over 18 years, and previously served as a construction manager for an industry leader in home building.
Below are some valuable tips and industry insight from John Ricks to customers on what to expect when entering into an agreement with a home building company.
- Time line. A proper timeline is extremely important, not only for the length of the actual project, but for the preliminary phases like plan development and the permitting process. Many people think the upfront time is very short, but it can typically take from one to several months.
The homeowner should be aware that there will be down time associated with each job, meaning there will be times when no one is there working. Each task must have its own time frame. Sometimes a service might only take one hour to perform, but we set aside an entire day for the task because it has to be completed before the next can be started. If you try to pile up multiple tasks in a day, it can be a nightmare when the unexpected happens.
R.H. Homes tries to provide homeowners with longer time frames so projects will always be completed before or on time.
- Job scope and material costs. Accounting for these key aspects immediately prevents wasted time on a project. There are many times when customers aren’t aware of realistic job costs. Setting proper material allowances is key. Many contractors will set low allowance numbers to make the overall estimate lower. In this case, many homeowners select items and discover they can’t get what they want with the allotted amount. It’s typically better to go high on the allowance numbers to give the homeowner plenty of options or to lower the overall cost.
- Job conditions. Homeowners need to know there will be dust, dirt, and messes. Even though a job site is cleaned on a daily basis, there is no way to fully prevent dust from traveling. We do everything we can by setting up plastic barriers with access zippers and providing brooms and shop vacs for contractors to use.
- Whom to contact and when. Since we are living in a hurry-up world, homeowners try to contact us at all hours of the day, not just during business hours. I usually ask customers to use phone or emails and not text messages to contact me. However, it is very typical to receive text messages late into the evening with the expectation of a response. Text messages cannot provide an out of office memo letting customers know we aren’t available, leading to frustration on both ends.
Regardless of planning, things will go wrong or unexpected situations will arise. We try to help homeowners prepare for the worst case scenario, even though the chances are slim. Under-promise and over-deliver could be the motto in our business.