Many homeowners are skeptical of contractors because of the erosion of trust in the construction industry. The shift toward conscious practices and products requires a discussion of long-term value versus upfront price, in addition to tackling the lack of communication and clarity that is crushing the client and contractor relationship. I launched the Confident Homeowner System to teach clients and contractors alike how to have a better relationship. The lessons I’ve learned from running my family’s concrete/masonry business taught me the importance of increased transparency while working together.
Home maintenance is the second largest purchase a home owner makes in their lifetime, so ensuring that trust is crucial. The most important thing I have learned from taking over the family business was the dynamic between contractors and homeowners; I could see what was and was not working. I like to begin with The Three P’s, which include price, people, and process. Aside from the costs, many customers fail to ask some important questions.
To start with people, I encourage homeowners to ask the contractor who will physically be doing the job, and what their experience looks like. This reassures homeowners and gives credibility to the contractor if they have an experienced person working on their project. Many clients can avoid getting scammed by simply asking the appropriate questions first, and “1 in 3 American homeowners have fallen victim to a home renovation scam,” according to the NY POST in 2019.
Final price should be clear and easily understood by both parties, and there should be a formal agreement before the project begins. For process, another tool featured in my Youtube series includes what steps to take during a virtual consultation. These four steps proceed as follows:
- Step 1: Focus on the photos. I suggest having one photo that consists of a close up, to get a nice view of the textures and colors. Then I also recommend including a wide shot, so contractors can see the general area for site conditions and work access.
- Step 2: Confirmation and schedule. Make sure your contractor is ensuring clear communication from the start of contact. They should be timely and understand what you are asking for.
- Step 3: The call. This is the part where the details will be laid out. During the virtual consultation, make sure all of the materials, the entire budget, and a timeline that includes dates from start to finish is mapped out for you. This is crucial for having a shared understanding before the project begins, and is a great reference for the future.
- Step 4: Meet in person. It is important to hash out all loose ends with an in person meeting, and this also puts a face to the contractor/client. This establishes trust and can be very beneficial to both parties.
These steps can help you avoid misunderstandings, and they allow clients and contractors to develop a better relationship from the very beginning. My system is a guide to avoiding scams and saving thousands of dollars while learning how to confidently improve your home. It is based on ethics over hyper growth, and the choice to do things the right way even if that means doing it slower or making less money.
Be sure to find a contractor that you feel comfortable with. We have a company ethos that goes, “Is this something you would do for your mother?” And if it’s not — we don’t do it. No question. I used my family’s sheer passion and experience but included an unslanted, true view of both sides of the contractor-homeowner relationship to help others. My book goes further in detail about this process, where I explore another 4-step rule on finding, vetting, hiring, and managing contractors. Remember these tips when starting a new home project, and never forget to ask questions throughout the process!
Matt DiBara is a fourth-generation mason of DiBara Masonry and the creator of The Undercover Contractor – The free resource for educating homeowners on how to find, vet, hire and manage contractors. He has worked on some of the most prestigious and well-known celebrity homes in the city of Los Angeles, in addition to restoring several of Hollywood’s most famous cultural landmarks. Matt is passionate about educating homeowners and empowering them with in-depth industry insight.