Monday, September 26, 2016

How Does Licensing Impact Value?

Living here in New Hampshire the "Live Free or Die" State , we enjoy freedom from many government regulations. Yay! Yes, that can allow us great freedom, which is a great thing. It can also create some disadvantages. Are you shocked being informed that New Hampshire law does NOT require the contractors, carpenters, or handymen to be licensed? Yes, this is fact! We are not alone. This fact is true across our nation. Unlicensed

What do I mean? The fact is anyone with a hammer, who thinks they know how to design, build, and hire subcontractors to remodel your property can do so legally, without experience or proving their skill, or professional status. No wonder we often hear stories of "contractors" running off with deposits or starting a job with demolition, beginning the remodeling work process then never returning!

 This shocking news definitely ties into our discussion researching value vs price shopping as we consider remodeling our homes. Selecting the contractor is key to your satisfaction for years to come. It is true contractors are NOT required to be licensed by the State. Thank goodness local municipalities require anyone doing construction to secure building permits. However, they are not required to prove they are experienced.

This means you and other innocent homeowners are vulnerable. You must perform due diligence while interviewing and selecting who to award your project to. New Hampshire is not alone. The trend is spread throughout the country. Realistically this problem is compounded by homeowners.
Many focus on cost and getting the lowest price possible rather than the value a reputable, experienced professional provides. In the long run actual costs may be slightly more or equal to a less professional choice. The old saying, "You get what you pay for," is especially applicable when selecting the right builder to remodel your home.

"How do I know", you ask? Referrals are always excellent sources of information to base your decision on. Another dependable source of information is contacting your town office building department. Call them and ask which contractors get the most permits. Generally, the frequency of pulling permits by the same contractor indicates they are well established and hired by many homeowners. Heading down to the town offices to chat with Building Inspectors is an excellent source of info too. Ask them who they would hire to work on their property or refer family or a friend to.

Here is an important value to you selecting the "more expensive" quote. Often we look at cost as only referring to the money spent to do the job. As important as that is, it is not the total cost paid. When a homeowner prioritizes the final dollar amount as the only deciding factor, they set themselves up for disappointment minimally. They also create the possibility of great financial loss or doubling the cost to complete a project abandoned by a less professional person they chose based on cost alone. Money is not the only consideration either. We are discussing your home, family, possessions, children, pets and everything you hold dear being around strangers for weeks to months.  Tragic consequences are possible if you fail your due diligence, research, background checking, and  follow up getting referrals.

To illustrate the risk NH Homeowners have and the importance they have to wisely who to award their project to I offer info below on how other states handle protecting homeowners. Any State  including New Hampshire ( which does NOT require licensing) shares the risk of homeowners
being taken advantage of by inexperienced or fraudulent individuals or companies.

There is a reason some States set up funds called the Residential Recovery Fund. Here are two statistics. In California alone, who does require licensing, as many as 70,000 contractors are working illegally. Nevada as well licenses contractors. As an example, Nevada is a State that does have a functioning State Contractors Board. What does Nevada's regulation have to do with New Hampshire?  Well, this year they have already awarded nearly $200,000 dollars to homeowners whose properties were damaged by " Licensed Contractors" in their State. In contrast, New Hampshire and the majority if States in America do not even require licensing. According to to the National Association of  State Contractors Licensing Agencies, at least 11 States have such recovery funds, including Massachusetts.

Guess who made these funds possible?  Professional reputable Contractors across this country who
care about the homeowners who came to them to "rescue " their home and finances! These people had their dream shattered and money stolen due to botched or abandoned project by someone who took advantage of the homeowner. Here at Apple Wood, we have "rescued " projects botched by another "contractor " a homeowner trusted and awarded their project to. Right now NH does NOT have regulations requiring licensing. There are no funds available to homeowners who have unfortunately hired the wrong contractor either. Thus, taking the time to research, get referrals, compare, and choose wisely who to trust is even more critical here.

I share this info to remind you value matters. Please be wise and research any company or individual bidding on your project. We would love to be considered as well. You will NOT be disappointed. You will be thrilled with the results as our clients are! That is why most of our business is referral and repeat business. will be pleasantly surprised to discover, along with value we are competitively priced. Working with Apple Wood guarantees your peace of mind, and satisfaction with the finished project!    


Friday, September 9, 2016

Value versus Price? Why It Matters

Last week I referred to value over price being important. Maybe you are wondering , "What does that mean?" Many believe they mean the same thing. However, there is a big difference between the two.
Homeowners considering remodeling can get so excited about their dream projects, they can become too confident about life altering decisions. The most common question is "How much does _________cost and how quickly can it be completed?"

I do not desire to minimize these important questions. They are important and valid. Unfortunately, it is easy for unscrupulous contractors to promise more than they are able to deliver when a homeowner is focused on cost alone.

Let's begin with some very important questions and critical considerations that touch on value versus price. How important is the safety of your family, pets, and belongings to you? Have you considered exactly who will be working in your home? How much have you considered the work habits, organization, order, and cleanliness of the project space and surrounding areas everyday when the build team leaves? Are you a smoker? What are your boundaries around profanity, cigarette butts, loud music with questionable lyrics being played around your property and children? Do you want peace of mind knowing the build team is trustworthy on your property in your absence? Are you confident the contractor you selected has the experience to complete the project on task and on budget. What if something unexpected comes up in the midst of the project. Have you done your due diligence to know the team you contracted with has the skill, education, experience, and reputation of following through no matter what? All these considerations are topics that represent value as well as cost.
Most of the time remodeling is done to update and make your home more comfortable and functional.
The workmanship will impact your satisfaction. It will also impact the monetary value of your home. Cutting corners to save a few bucks may cost you much more when you list the home for sale.
Yes , there are so many important considerations. Plus it is extremely important you like the contractor you will be inviting into your living space for months. 

Every professional remodeling contractor has had the experience of being contacted by a homeowner who is in an emergency situation because they hired the guy with the cheapest price. No, they were not expecting bad workmanship or criminal behavior. In fact, the contractor they hired seemed great. He sounded safe, experienced, good, and honest. Yet, there are countless stories of  homeowners left high and dry, minus thousands of dollars paid as a deposit. Sometimes contractors who start the demolitian, perhaps begin the build phase, never show up again. Your deposit money may be gone and you may be left high and dry, looking for someone to finish the project. The remodeling and construction business can be high risk for shady dealings. To protect yourself and your property, it is imperative to get reviews and referrals from people you trust.

I learned this lesson the hard way in the past six months. My experience about value vs price happened when I needed dental work and wanted to save money. It was a hard, frustrating and very expensive life lesson for me. There actually are some similarities to what I hope to alert you to in this article. So, here I go with the painful embarrassing saga.

Two years ago I realized it was time to get important dental work done. I did not have a local dentist so I asked a friend for a referral. She told me about the only dentist she would trust with her mouth and teeth. She worked in the industry and was knowledgeable. Right up front she told me her dentist was not going to be the least expensive. He would be competitive yet his level of skill and experience commanded respect and would probably cost a little more. She assured me of his integrity and reputation, which I confirmed reading reviews online. Yet, I decided I would be good going to a less expensive dentist. At that point, my dental needs were fairly routine. I did not see the value of her recommendation. What does this have to do with construction or remodeling? Hold on , I think you will get my point.

I googled retail dental offices. Based on web page marketing and a few phone calls, I decided on one of the local offices of  a well known national chain of dentists. Since my presenting issue was very basic I felt their services and expertise would be fine. I will say, for basic care, my experience there was sufficient. I especially liked the lower price. However, it did not take long to realize the quality of care was no equal to my previous dentist. I ignored a nagging sense, I might be making an unwise choice. I would have been smarter to leave this nationally recognized chain at that point. I knew they might not have the best equipment or provide the highest quality training and supplies to their staff. However, I liked spending less. I liked the staff and especially the dentist. I became complacent and comfortable settling for less than the best. I kept going back.

Eventually I had an emergency arise. Since my dental was being supplied there for over a year, I went to them for the emergency need. I unwisely trusted they had the expertise. Long story short. I was incorrect. Although the dentist was personable and experienced, the corporate policies tied her hands. She did not have freedom to treat me appropriately. Price versus value became glaringly apparent. I ended up with a fractured root from the inadequate equipment of the office and limited choices of care she had to respond to my emergency situation.

Ultimately, I was forced to pay more than double due to my goal of "saving money," shopping price rather than value.  I ended up going to the dentist I rejected earlier based on his higher pricing. If I had gone there in the first place, I am confident the expensive emergency would have been avoided.

Value is made up of so many factors that are all important. Training, experience, expertise, customer service, quality selections offered, dependability, reputation, the safety of your personal belongings and your loved ones. All of these intangibles are truly the most important ingredients. When everything goes perfectly, they do not come to mind. However, when any of them are missing, their value is glaringly obvious.