Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The Property Brothers. Fixer Upper.
These are some of the popular shows on Home & Garden Television (HGTV) right now. Through these shows and more, HGTV has millions of viewers from all over the United States. It’s even ranked as the fifth biggest cable network in the country. The channel has changed the way we perceive home construction and renovation. They’re no longer just costly and time- and energy-consuming endeavors. They are actually projects that we, as homeowners, can enjoy.
But because of this fascination for home design shows, we developed the HGTV Effect. This is when clients of contractors base their expectations on what they’ve seen on their favorite shows on HGTV. And because this sets the bar high, they often feel disappointed or even angry. They believe that the contractors didn’t do a good job.
The thing about HGTV that people often forget is that it is a TV channel. Yes, the shows are reality shows. But they’re still created for entertainment. Thus, they may not always be as realistic as we think. Here’s how you, as the contractor, can protect yourself from the HGTV Effect.
Strengthen the Client-Contractor Relationship
The first thing that contractors should always do is to understand what their clients want. Some clients can be vague and just say that they want something “relaxing” or “minimal.” These can help set the expectations. But you need to have more information than that. So don’t be afraid to pick your client’s brain on what they want. The more you know about their expectations, the better.
Don’t also be afraid to make suggestions to them. After understanding what they want, then show them how they can achieve them. If they want something relaxing, then show them color schemes that would make the home feel light and airy. Another thing is that don’t hesitate to show them what’s ideal and what’s not. Perhaps in a snowy location, it’s not ideal to have flagstone walkways. So don’t hesitate to suggest to them having flat walkways would be more ideal to make snow-shoveling much easier.
And, lastly, you must also find the balance in your client’s involvement in the project. Make sure that they’re well-informed about the progress and the issues that you’ve encountered. But also make sure that they don’t become too overbearing.
Ensure that You’re Secured Legally
As the contractor, don’t ever overlook the need to draw up a construction agreement with your client. Even if it’s just a smaller project such as redoing the kitchen or bathroom. This is crucial because a lot of money is involved. As we all know, construction and renovation projects never come cheap.
Make sure that you have a trusted law firm that specializes in civil litigation. Law firms like this offer services to cases of construction project disputes. In the event that your client feels robbed because their high expectations aren’t met, then you can just bring up the agreement that you both signed.
The thing about the HGTV Effect is that there really is no guarantee that it doesn’t affect your client. Even if you’ve created a balanced relationship with them, they might still feel disappointed and angry with the end result. So it’s better to secure yourself legally, just in case.
Make Sure Everything’s Clear and Aboveboard
Again, it’s really important to make sure that your client is well-aware of the goings-on in the construction project. The first is that you have to settle clearly about the budget. Let them know how much things are going to cost. This is so that they will understand where their money is going.
They should also know about the materials that are being bought for the home. This is so that they’re sure that you’re not skimping them on the quality of the materials just to fit the budget. If they want, say, marble countertops, then they should have a clear understanding of the possible expenses for such a costly material.
Be sure to show them, too, the projected value of the property when the construction project finishes. This is more for clients who are planning to sell the home. Again, this so that their expectations are set not by the HGTV Effect but by you.
Don’t get it wrong. The HGTV Effect is not all bad. It increased people’s interest in home design. It showed them the importance of having a lovely home. Thus, it does have an effect on the rise of the number of clients for construction companies. But being cautious of the HGTV Effect is also very important to protect the integrity and security of your work.