I recently was made aware of a conversation that a local Realtor had with someone I know that had to do with a remodeling project she was doing at her home. She felt trapped- the people that were working at her house, rather than inspiring trust and confidence, made her want to stay home whenever they were there “I’m not going to leave them alone in my house!” If I could have, I would have asked the client why in the world she would hire people that she doesn’t trust-especially to do expensive things that involve ripping up her house!? But, I think I already know the answer- price and ignorance. Picking a contractor is no different than hiring anyone else- you want to be careful. Most consumer complaints filed in the Ohio State Attorney Generals office have to do with Home Improvement contractors. As well they should- since most people decide these things based on price. How many of you have thought, well, I’ll get 3 bids and take the middle one as a way to select your contractor? Do any of those bids tell you about whether you and the contractor are aligned in what he is going to deliver for the amount you are planning on paying? Do they tell you whether he has great trade relationships with real pros? Or how much emphasis he really puts on you having a good experience? What is a “bid” really? Is there a locked in, no questions left, specification book that they are attaching the price to? Almost never. So, a bid is often a contractor’s guess as to what amount of money will get him in the door, so then he can start filling out change order requests. There aren’t that many places to buy building materials, and most of them are priced within very narrow ranges, so differences in price are often differences in what a given contractor is planning on delivering to you. Quality of material, quality of labor, speed, or all three. Rule one of almost everything- there is ALWAYS something/someone cheaper-whether you want the service that implies is up to you-don’t say you haven’t been warned!
It’s been my prediction for years that the new home market would splinter into first-time buyer priced homes and luxury homes. I predicted this because I saw a real shortage of available sites for mid-priced homes. Tat shortage is especially hitting home now, as the market warms up, and people are asking me to help them find sites. It isn’t impossible to find suitable sites, but it isn’t easy either. I think that the market will continue to splinter, and what’s been an area-wide issue will spread nationally. So, there’s never been a better time than now to get started! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-02/luxury-home-sales-jump-as-low-end-falters-in-u-s-rebound.html
The more things change, the more they stay the same! https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/lead-levels-ancient-rome%E2%80%99s-water-were-high-not-toxic
I just became acquainted with a very technical sounding term- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). IPD is a construction industry term that means that the design and construction teams collaborate cooperatively to create a project to deliver to the client. This is something that we’ve been doing for years. IPD is a reaction to a loss in productivity in the construction economy related to wasted money and time due to current somewhat adversarial design and building procedures. It seems, as we’ve known all along, that Architects and contractors have finally figured out that working together, rather than against each other, delivers a better project to the client. The typical project scenario:Design-Bid-Build-Complain (DBBC) hasn’t produced happy clients, and has produced massive cost over-runs, litigation, and ill-will for projects in both the public and private sectors of the economy. This comes as no surprise-imagine what automobiles would be like if one company designed them, then another company bid out the designs, and a third company built the cars!! I think we can all agree that would be disastrous! Well, that’s what stands for typical in construction. IPD is a way for construction to move away from those roots, and into the world that all other producers of goods live in-customer-centric and delivery based. We’ve been operating IPD and didn’t even know it for over 20 years! There we are- at the cutting edge of our industry-just by using Common Sense (CS)!!
The latest figures show a sharp dropoff in applications for new mortgages in the quarter ending March 31st (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-14/lending-plunges-to-17-year-low-as-rates-curtail-borrowing.html ). As a builder, rising rates are always bad, and for borrowers the higher rates mean higher costs and payments. But the dropoff in applications might have a silver lining- namely it gives lenders a chance to get re-acquainted with a concept called Customer Service! Since the downturn in 2008, I have heard consistent comments regarding the total lack of customer service on the part of banks especially. The mortgage process, starting with applications and winding through appraisals and approvals, has become a draconian and serpentine (love the animal references!) pathway to purchasing-frustrating professionals and amateurs alike. There are seemingly no rules of common sense any more- the amount of paperwork required has grown exponentially, and the lackadaisical attitudes an the part of some participants is breathtaking. Appraisals, which used to take a week or so, are now assigned by kangaroo court and regularly command weeks of calling, reminders questioning and frustration. Loan committees now ask for the most arcane information about borrowers, leading me to wonder sometimes if you have to donate your brain before taking a banking job. Maybe a slowdown in work will help these people to re-focus on what is the only important relationship they need nourish- that with their customer!!