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The HGTV Effect & Working With a First-Time Remodeling Client

by Amy Lindholm, April 19, 2018

The HGTV Effect & Working With a First-Time Remodeling Client

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve already received calls from potential remodeling clients who want to do a home renovation. Perhaps they want to redo their kitchen, and they have been inspired by the transformations they’ve seen on their favorite HGTV show. They want to tear out a wall to open up the space, demo what’s left, reconfigure the layout, and install brand-new cabinetry, fixtures and appliances. And they want to do it all for $30,000.

Remodeling projects are depicted on TV to cost less than reality, be completed much faster than in real life, without any stress or hassle to the homeowner. It’s a fantasy that makes life a bit harder for contractors because it results in what’s known as the HGTV Effect: homeowners with very unrealistic expectations of remodeling costs, timelines and challenges.

Setting Realistic Expectations

What can you do to combat the HGTV Effect in first-time remodelers? It all starts with setting realistic expectations. This is done by establishing an honest, professional relationship from the first call to your office.

  1. Set yourself up right. Provide clear and understandable information about your remodeling process, and what they can expect at each phase. Let them know what you expect from them too, and what the next step in the project will be.
  2. Determine where the client is coming from. Listen to your client’s vision for their space. If you sense their expectations may be unreasonable, find out how they came up with these expectations. Kindly educate them about what is realistic as far as costs and timelines.
  3. Be transparent. If the client requests a change that is not possible or that you do not recommend, politely and professionally explain why it can’t be done or why you advise against it. Don’t hesitate to say no.
  4. Offer cost-saving alternatives. Where finances are a barrier to the client’s goals, offer splurge vs. save options. If they want a high-end granite or quartz countertop that’s out of the budget, suggest offsetting the cost by refacing current cabinets rather than replacing them.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Regularly communicate from the beginning to the end of the project. Ask them how they feel the project is progressing. Clearly communicate any unexpected issues that arise and how they impact the client.

The Goal: A Win-Win Project

In addition to doing the actual work, it’s your job to guide your client smoothly through the process by being honest and upfront, and setting realistic expectations from the get-go. Accomplish this, and you’ve achieved more than any TV show could.

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