You’ve heard the term “unprecedented times” so much over the last two years- it’s hard to wrap your head around what people mean when they say it!
But let me say…the construction industry? It’s “unprecedented”! I’ve never seen so many homeowners calling us, stressed out from negative interactions with contractors.
Here’s what’s happening:
In Pennsylvania, we have homeowners who
…now work from home- and want to invest in the place they’re spending their time.
…want to take advantage of the market and make a few updates before selling and downsizing (or upsizing) to their dream home.
…realize they want a home where they can take care of extended family- or age in place- in the decades ahead.
That means a lot of demand for contracting services. And, unfortunately, because we also have a shortage in skilled trade professionals, there just aren’t enough professionals to make it happen as fast as people like.
To make matters crazier, there are supply issues too.
We’ve seen lumber, siding, roofing, and window prices skyrocket- at first when overseas manufacturers were shut down. Now, as more of us turn to materials made in the USA or Canada, it’s still both unpredictable and pricey.
All of these factors make for the perfect storm of stress for everyone involved. Just in the last month, I’ve heard
“Do you know ANYONE who can repave a driveway? I’ve called 5 companies and no one has called back.”
“My contractor said this would be done in time for Thanksgiving- I planned on it. But now they’re working on another project and I don’t know how I’m going to host!”
“Last year we had a bid for a deck at $8k…now the same company says it’ll be $17k. Are they taking advantage of me??”
Your Expectations as a Homeowner
Sadly, it’s true that some contractors are letting themselves slip into bad business practices. These contractors overpromise because they don’t want to turn down the money. They overextend their crew because they really do want to help you finish a project before the holidays…and then their crew quits. They don’t return calls because they just don’t have enough hours in the day.
We’re blessed at Martin Roofing & Siding to have a steady leader like Vern at the helm. He’s kept everyone in check, balancing crew needs with client needs, to keep everything running smoothly through this crazy time. We’ve hired great staff to help us in the office (hello, Holly and Ana!). Our reputation for always communicating about pricing and completion time has headed off a lot of rocky interactions for our crew.
But what about you?
But…is there anything you, as a homeowner, can do to make your home construction run a smooth course? As a matter of fact- there is! Better yet, it’s super easy.
While it’s not our typical “how to” or inspiration post, I’d love to dive in this week to how you can set the stage for cultivating a great relationship with your contractor.
Let’s get to it.
What The Best Homeowners Know Before They Call A Contractor:
No contractor expects you to know the ends and outs of your entire project before you call. But in my experience? The best projects always start with a foundation of solid information from you.
Our team is experienced in every installation… but every project is different. We know construction- and you know what you want for your home.
Any new project can seem overwhelming. Even something simple, like getting new vinyl siding, can lead to a million decisions. One of the hardest parts of replacing vinyl? Choosing the right color. Seriously- our siding provider Ply Gem offers hundreds of colors in every style to choose from.
So with a new project, how do you bridge this communication gap? A few ways:
#1. Know Your Budget!
This is the MOST important thing to walk into a conversation with. Many customers think that naming a budget will mean a contractor will automatically charge them the highest price possible. It’s not true! A professional contractor isn’t here to make you overspend- when we ask for a budget it’s because we want to help you find ways to fit within it. This could mean suggestions like opting for stone veneer over authentic stone, or choosing standard shingles over architectural style shingles.
A great contractor is there to help. Know your budget, and don’t feel uncomfortable about being honest when they ask.
#2. We LOVE Pinterest Boards.
In the age of technology, Pinterest is one of the best ways to communicate ideas. In every post, we include photos of the style discussed. Why? Over 60% of people are visual learners, your contractors included!
Of course, you don’t need to use an app like Pinterest to help us out. Earmarked magazine photos, photos printed from the internet, or even just screenshots from our own project portfolios will help us “see” what you do and don’t like.
Show us your reference pictures, and our in-house architect will make them a reality.
#3. Know Your Expectations
Often, we ask how long you plan to live in your home after you install your new exterior. This helps us determine the best fit for your budget and your lifestyle. Moving in the next five to ten years? We recommend an asphalt roof for your time and budget. Making a lifetime home commitment? Metal is the better investment.
Get Your Team On The Same Page
Communication is key to every relationship.
And while this is true with your contractor, it’s most important with your spouse. Before calling in a contractor, make sure everyone is in agreement.
Set your budget together and be upfront with expectations. That Pinterest board? Collaborate on it.
We love and encourage you to ask questions. But no contractor wants to “take sides” while bidding your project. We’re not here to help you “convince” your significant other you need a certain style of roofing or an upgraded facade. We’re here to give you BOTH an honest assessment so you can make a decision together.
When you call us for a bid, you should be in agreement on:
- The scope of your project
- Your budget
Nothing is set in stone but these two factors shouldn’t be up for debate. Help us help you by finding common ground before you call our office.
Which brings us to our next point:
Be Open to Alternatives
2020 brought many crazy changes. One of the most relevant to our industry? The lumber shortage.
Just last month, lumber prices were up by 40%. This is due to Covid-19 shutdowns, increases in home projects, and forest fires. The second most scarce material? New windows due to factory shutdowns.
So what does this mean for you as a homeowner?
You might have your heart set on a certain style of roofing or window type…but to get your project done in a reasonable time frame? You may need to adjust your choice in materials.
Be open to change!
Knowing what you want from your new project is a must, but if you’ve chosen a quality contractor keep in mind their suggestions come from a positive, helpful perspective. Inexperienced contractors will cut corners to save time and money in the short term. But in the long term? You’re setting yourself up for costly repairs and poor quality workmanship.
This is why it’s so important to work with a team you can trust. Here at Martin, we pride ourselves on honesty and excellent support. We never suggest anything that threatens the integrity of your home.
Our goal isn’t to sign the biggest contract, or make the most money. Instead, we offer solutions best suited to each family and home.
Worried about choosing the wrong alternative?
With GAF’s visualization software, you never have to make a blind decision. The software allows you to visualize your home before we even order the materials. Paired with our in-house architect, you know exactly what your project will look like before we place a material order.
Those tools make it easy to decide if an alternative is a better choice for your project.
Your home is designed for your family. It’s where your little ones run around safely, where your pets are loved, and where your family grows together. A home is the safest place for your family. And when you invited our team to your property? Our top priority is respecting this.
Have you heard about our clean commitment?
Our crew is committed to a clean worksite. We honor and respect your home as our own, and leave every workspace free of debris and dangerous materials.
We love building client relationships based on trust and care.
And we ask the same level of respect from homeowners.
- Keep the pets at a friends, or kennel them during work time
- Take the kids to grandmas. We love little ones! But for their safety, keep them out of the construction area.
- Clear your yard of toys and move cars into the garage. Often, we need to park equipment in the driveway.
These steps help us guarantee your family’s safety and protection.
When our team is at work, we are dedicated to the project. If you need other problems assessed, contact the office and we can set it up separately.
We’re respectful of all our client’s timeframes. In order to stay on schedule for your home- and the next- our team needs to stay focused on the project at hand.
Are we replacing your roof when you also notice signs of water damage or faulty siding? Call the office. We’d love to get you on our schedule to set up a separate project from the one at hand.
Something Not Right? Here’s What To Do
In high school, I remember an experiment in chemistry class.
After performing all the tasks, writing down every number and equation, each group shared their results. Everyone should have had the same response but the results varied for every single group.
And even the most skilled team can run into the same problem.
If you have a concern or think something is wrong, don’t panic.
The best way to address the problem isn’t to take it out on the crew, or call in a different contractor mid-project. Instead, give Vern a call directly.
If you have an issue or changed your mind on installation, give him a call at 570-345-0436. Your experience with our company will always be great- we guarantee it.
Blessed to Have The BEST Clients
Every day, I’m so thankful for the strong foundation my husband Vern gives our company, and the consistent and amazing work done by our office staff and team. Being part of a team and communicating makes us the smoothest running business I’ve ever seen in the construction field.
And this Thanksgiving season I want to say “thanks” to you! I’m so thankful for our clients. If you’ve worked with us- thank you. We’ve built a relationship on trust, something so important to me.
If you’re looking for a contractor going forward, may this guide help you build these same relationships.
Think our team is the right fit for you?
Give us a call at 570-345-0436 and let’s start building your new project, and relationship.
Never miss an article! Keep up with the latest at Martin Roofing and Siding by signing up for our email list here: