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Big Bucks

Big Bucks

The budget is a fickle thing; rarely in my experience is there a client for whom cost is no object. In this article I liken the remodeling process to a river raft trip.

There is a point at which clients lead themselves to second guess themselves. During a project it is not uncommon to be concerned that they just didn’t make their addition large enough, or perhaps we should have dug that basement beneath the addition. I know, both of these things happened to me. At some point when you are headed into the rapids of a remodeling project you just have to get through it to have enjoyed the ride.

To survive this series of class 5 rapids, I make sure that all parties are on board with the plan and that we have everything we need to make it through the challenging parts of the remodeling project.  Then we can head straight for the high water, so to speak, and get through the challenging parts quickly without tossing anyone out of the metaphorical raft on the way.

I have assembled some of the most common phrases that can lead our process to eddy out.

#3 “Let’s Change the scope of work, again”

Lets see

Lets see

We had a client in the Design Development stage that was anxious to remodel their home and had lots of ideas about what they wanted. They had a not to exceed budget in mind. I thought I had them pretty well nailed down to a good design by the 3rd revision and the material selections were almost complete. I got word that material selections were all changing. Then a sun room was added. In this case, we went back to the drawing board, literally. We ultimately did not get this project.

In several other instances the cost of the materials that were selected went way beyond the allowances. This obviously blew my Opinion of Probable cost out the window.

For these reasons we limit changes to 3 and no longer worry about having any materials selected until we have reached a lump sum project price. We have expedited our design phase and eliminates folks that can not make up their mind from working with us.

Extra fees apply when the plan keeps changing dramatically. These situations are expensive to us. If your time is valuable to you, then it is expensive in that way too.

#2 “À la carte please”

Who had the burger?

Who had the burger?

Restaurants operate on the menu concept, remodeling companies do not. Successful restaurants that use test kitchens and focus groups know what goes good together and there is a value to both parties when you order off the menu.  Occasionally a client will ask for me to create an “à la carte” menu of things to pick and choose from.

Can I get a credit if I don’t want croutons on my salad? That is silly, no you can not.

We have the opportunity to create our own economy of size and efficiency when we can leave our tools set up, bring all of the materials to the job site at once and plan ahead.

Although we can do this sort of work at Levco. An “à la carte” approach will always be much more expensive. Just like in the restaurant. We work best when we know everything you want done and provide you with one price for the project. Think about ordering a car one component at a time.

#1 “While you’re at it”



Nothing cheap ever happens when those words are uttered. At Levco we try especially hard to discover all of the things that need to be done by asking open ended questions during the design phase. Questions like, “What do you envision occurring in this room?” help us avoid having to keep clients any longer than necessary in the design phase.

Changes during the project are not uncommon. The truth is, we find lots of things that could be done better while we are remodeling. We make every effort to avoid the “while you’re at it” discussions because it is easy to go overboard and spend more than you had intended on the project.

Here Are The Tools I Use to Avoid These 3 Pitfalls.

    1. We use (what I believe is) the most detailed Description of Work (DOW) in the area.
    2. We try to lump everything into one price to avoid the à la carte menu sticker shock. For example, we offer discounts to folks that are doing more than 2 egress windows. If we can break the project into a base price with options, we will.
    3. While in the Design Phase we discover your level of finishes Low, Medium, or High and use that to expedite the process.
    4. We have our tradesmen provide us with bids for items over $500 (whenever necessary).
    5. We insist that our client’s to select all of their materials before we start remodeling.
    6. We use a Change Order process that keeps everyone in the loop.
    7. We use a Client Portal to keep communications on track.
    8. In the Client Portal, there is a great scheduling component to keep everyone updated.
    9. We have a Project Manager system that all information is funneled through.

Our industry has a very bad reputation for being less than professional, I am doing everything in my power to right the ship and be an emissary for the industry.

Having an experienced contractor lessens the odds of running into problems but it is no guarantee. Our goal at Levco is to create enthusiastic referrals. Ask your remodeler what theirs’ is. Choose or refer Levco, you’ll be glad you did.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” A. Einstein

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

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