Better Manage Client Expectations and Deadlines

By Erin Golden

As any contractor knows, every client is different. Some want to be part of every decision you make on a project, no matter how small. Some prefer that you sort out all the details, while they step away and wait for you to produce a perfect finished product.

Regardless of how different clients might approach a project and their relationship with you, they do have a few things in common: They want the project to be done on time, within budget and according to specifications. If you want to stay in business, you must deliver on these expectations.

“Managing clients’ expectations is one of the most important things that any general contractor has to do,” says Clive Thurston, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association. “Expectations usually exceed budget, and that is always a challenge for us—to find a way to deliver what a (customer) wants for what they’re willing to pay.”

Get everyone on the same page

What is the key to happy customers? From the outset of the project, make sure you clearly understand expectations, and make sure everyone else involved in the project does, too.

Set up a meeting with the entire team—architects, interior designers, sub-contractors and anyone else who will play a major role in the project—and draft a comprehensive plan that covers all stages of the project.

General contractor Eric Owen, owner of The Better Living Solutions Group in Ottawa, says he meets with clients early in a project and talks through a general timeline, explaining each step in the process. He’ll walk the client through everything from demolition on a remodel to initial, rough framing work, inspections and finish work, so nothing is a surprise. If there are bumps in the road, Owen and the client both understand the potential impact they could have on the project’s timeline.

“The more the customer knows about what’s going on, the easier it is to manage those situations,” Owen says.

Set realistic project deadlines

Communication is critical not only at the front end of a project, but throughout its entirety. Your clients will be excited to see their project become a reality, but it’s important to be realistic and clue them in on the actual time it takes to build something, whether it’s a new deck or a $1 million home. Many owners set unrealistic time schedules because they have not worked closely enough with the designer, consultant or builder, Thurston says.

“If a client requests an expedited project, give them an upfront and honest assessment. If you’ve got too many projects going on simultaneously, an accelerated deadline simply might not be possible. Of course, you might be able to pick up the pace, but the customer must be willing to adjust the budget.

Provide regular updates

Don’t wait around for the customer to check in on the project’s progress. Providing project updates can help clients feel like they’re involved and part of the team.

These updates are particularly important when you’re at a stage in the project when progress isn’t always visible to the client, Thurston says. A new homeowner might not understand the time required for a relatively small element of the project.

“It’s important that any contractor make sure they’re regularly talking to the client, giving them updates on how the work is proceeding so they’re not surprised,” Thurston says.

To stay on top of various project deadlines for all your clients, you can look to software or Web-based project-management programs that keep tabs on orders, appointments and other crucial dates and information. For large projects, such as a kitchen remodel, Owen’s company uses Microsoft Project and other home-building software.

These tools can keep you on track when you face project setbacks, such as inclement weather and late shipments. When these things occur, it’s important to keep your customers in the loop, regardless of whether the setback will push the project back a few weeks, or only a few days.

Owen recalled one series of projects that overlapped for myriad reasons. His team tried to keep pace, but he ultimately had to tell the customers it wouldn’t be possible to meet their timelines. Now, he wishes he’d had those conversations much earlier in the process.

“In hindsight, it might have been an hour of pain that would have saved me months of pain,” he says.

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6 Reasons to Choose The Better Living Solutions Group

Choose the Right Renovation Company!

6 Reasons to Choose The Better Living Solutions Group

  1. Idea: The Better Living Solutions designer will sit with you and go over all your ideas for your new space and start the process of building you a place you will enjoying and want to be in.
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  3. Design: Once The Better Living Solutions designer has all your ideas, your needs, your wants they design a space you will be happy to be in.  You are then able to walk through your new space on the computer to make any last minutes changes to the design. By doing this you are able to see the final outcome before the renovation process starts.
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  5. Fixed Price Quote:  You know what you will pay up front.  No more worries or surprises about being given a bill for more then you thought you were going to pay.
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  7. The Binder: The Better Living Solutions Binder is designed to provide you with all the information you will need for your renovation or remodeling project in one place. Inside the binder you will find the final quote, the project plan and time line, copies of all permit and reports, sample of product materials and your chosen paint colour, change request forms, the payment schedule, and all telephone number required for service during and after the project.
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  9. Construction: The Better Living Solutions coordinator will take care of the details on your behalf, including, permits, inspections, plumbing, electrical, or structural work (moving walls, installing windows, etc.).
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  11. The two week follow-up: After the Better Living Solutions clients has a week or two to get use to the new space, they usually have a few question.  This is why the Better Living Solutions Group has the two week follow up meeting with all our clients. Together we review the follow-up questions list in the project binder and we answer all your questions you may have.  This is why Better Living Solutions clients are always ecstatic with the service and renovations they receive from Better Living Solutions.
  12.  

We specialize in KITCHENS, BATHROOMS, and BASEMENTS

At Better Living Solutions we work with homeowners in Ottawa to transform unfinished, unused or outdated space into comfortable, practical and contemporary living space.

At Better Living Solutions our “Worry Free Binder“ approach to home renovation provides homeowners with a simple, all inclusive, solution to turn their projects from dream to reality. The Better Living Solutions works with homeowners from the initial consultation to discuss their vision for the space to be renovated through to the two-week follow up meeting once the project is completed to ensure that the space meets all client’s expectations.

What do you want your finished space to be?

Contact Us: 613-862-8987 / betterliving@tblsg.com

The Better Living Solutions Group

Turning your renovation ideas and dreams into your better living space!

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Keep your home dry while preventing water damage this fall and winter!

The fall is a wonderful time to be outside. Brisk mornings, splendid warm days and spectacular fall colors mark the transition from summer to winter a joy. But there are a few chores which homeowners need to take care off to make sure they do not have any surprises on those cold stormy nights or the early spring thaw coming next year.
Here are some tips to help keep your home dry this fall and winter.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are not comfortable, or do not have the required skills and knowhow, then working on your roof, around tree, and power lines can be dangerous. Please use all required safety equipment and contact your local utility if needed. Otherwise hire a professional to make sure the work is done properly and safely.

Keep your roof free from leaves, twigs, and other litter to allow for proper drainage. Make sure air can flow freely through all soffit and roof vents. This will reduce the build-up of heat and moisture and help extend the life of the roof.

Keep trees trimmed to prevent them from rubbing against the roof or providing excessive shade. Excessive shade over moist or damp areas can lead to moss and mould growth on your roof and home.

Replace missing, curling, cupping, broken, or cracked shingles.

Watch for damage in valley areas of the roof, and around the flashing at chimneys, vents, and other junctions. This is an area which will see the presents of snow and rain in the coming months. These junction points are usually one of the first areas to be effects do to the large amount of water flowing over and down them.

Check your attic around flues, plumbing vents, and chimneys for roof leaks, especially if you’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling. Call a professional if you are unsure or concerned about working on your roof.

Clean debris from your gutters and downspouts, and inspect them regularly. Think about installing gutter shields if your gutters frequently fill with debris.

Place splash blocks at the end of downspouts to carry water away from the foundation, or add an extra length of downspout if necessary. As a home owner you do not want to have all the water which is flowing off of your roof draining into your foundation. You want to move this water as far away from the house as possible. Also fill in any low spots next to the house to help water drain away from the foundation.

Before the temperature reaches freezing overnight it is a good time to disconnect garden hoses from all spigots and turn off each spigot’s water supply.

Check and replace any damaged caulk around windows or doors. This will help to keep both water and cold air out!

Please remember if you are unsure, unsteady, or concerned about working on or around your roof, contact a professional.

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Ten home repairs that will save you money in Kanata and Ottawa

In doing some research I came across this great Globe and Mail article.  I think you will all enjoy these helpful hints.

Remodels are great, but can get pretty pricey. Not everyone has thousands to add value to their home – but what about those less glamorous repair projects on your to-do list? These simple and inexpensive maintenance items don’t seem like they add to your home’s value, but they’re big money-savers in the long run.

1. Caulk:
If you’ve lived in your house a few years, you probably noticed that the caulk along your sinks, countertops and bathtub is coming loose. These gaps may not seem like a big deal, but they can wreak havoc inside your walls. Moisture causes mold and even leaks – expensive repairs that can easily be prevented. A tube of kitchen and bath caulk costs just a few dollars, and you’ll avoid expensive repairs.

2. Insulate:
The quickest way to save money on your energy bill is to insulate, yet so many of us overlook this simple home improvement project for its benefits. Sure, your walls are insulated, but what about your basement, your attic, and your garage? Just in case the energy cost savings aren’t enticing enough for you, check with the government – there are current credits that allow you to deduct this energy-saving expense from your taxes. (Find out what you can do to improve your chances of having a quick sale, in Selling Your Home In A Down Market.)

3. Change Filters:
When was the last time you changed your furnace’s air filters? It’s an oft-overlooked chore, but one that keep your furnace running efficiently, and improves the air quality inside your home. Change your filters at least every three months to keep your furnace working efficiently for years to come.

4. Install a Thermostat:
Does your home have a programmable thermostat? If not, invest in one; it’ll earn its money back in no time. By programming heating and cooling, you avoid paying to keep an empty house at a comfortable temperature. Manage the heat appropriately in winter to avoid burst water pipes; in summer, draw your curtains during the day to keep the house cool. Buy a programmable thermostat and you can save big on monthly bills.

5. Fix Leaks:
That leaky faucet or runny toilet is draining your water bill, and in most cases it’s a cheap and quick fix. Replace the washer on your faucet, and while you’re at it, consider installing a faucet aerator if yours doesn’t already have one. Faucet aerators reduce water flow from your faucet to save on your water bill; check your home improvement store for this inexpensive fix. (If you’re just looking to get rich quick, you could end up in the poorhouse. Find out how, in 5 Mistakes That Make House Flipping A Flop.)

6. Install Dimmers:
Dimmers aren’t just for romance; they can save you big bucks on your energy bill. They’re cheap and easy to install, so look for rooms that could use a little reduction in harsh lighting. While you’re at it, replace your light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. They’re big money savers.

7. Clean Carpets:
Clean your carpet lately? With proper care, carpets can last a long time and look great, but everyone needs to clean them sometime. You don’t need to hire an expensive service either – if you can vacuum, you can clean your carpets by yourself. Rent a carpet cleaner at your local supermarket or big-box store for a modest fee. Make sure you vacuum thoroughly before cleaning, and pick a dry day so your carpet dries quickly. With regular cleaning your carpet can last a long time, saving you big bucks on new flooring.

8. Clean Siding and Windows:
Windows and siding get a beating in most climates. Wash your windows and siding with a simple hose and water first, and with a cleaning solution as needed; your home improvement store sells specialty products for just this kind of job. Rent a power washer for very dirty jobs. Keep an eye on cobwebs, wasp and bird nests to ensure your home’s exterior stays in good shape. Touch up with paint as needed, and your house will look like new at little or no cost. (Some renovations will mean a bigger sale price on your home, while others will just cost you. Find out more, in Will Your Home Remodel Pay Off?)

9. Fight Pests:
Those spiders and ants at your foundation, that mouse nest in your crawl space? Take care of it – pests can destroy a home in a hurry. Hire an exterminator, or for small pests, combat with pesticides. Even if you don’t think you have a problem, inspect every part of the interior and exterior of your home regularly to avoid small pest problems getting out hand.

10. Clean Ductwork:
If your home is older, your ductwork likely has dust, grime, and other unwelcome residue inside. For big jobs, pay a professional; a simple cleaning can easily be done yourself. Simply remove the grates from your air vents, and clean the inside with your vacuum. The Bottom Line The best way to invest in your home is to take good care of what’s already there. With these simple repair jobs, you’ll even save money – with just a little elbow grease as investment.

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