If you’re in the business of home renovation, you may have encountered a growing trend of homeowners looking to restore their properties. In fact, home restoration is becoming more popular, and it’s bringing a slew of new regulations along with it.
Moving into the home restoration market is tricky. Beyond solid construction management software, construction estimating software, and knowledge of how to organize a construction workforce, contractors need to know what to look for when evaluating a home.
Below, we’ve listed seven things to look out for when bidding on a home restoration job. Don’t skip any of these items; missing them could mean lost profits, injury, or even death.
1. Pay Attention to Where Your Leads Come From
You should categorize each lead, or potential customer, that comes your way as either hot or cold. Hot leads are already sold on the services that you offer. These leads are ready to bite, while cold leads are still deciding what they want and whether they want your specific company to do it.You can usually bid immediately with a hot lead whereas cold leads take more work.
For example, Chuck Dunnigan of Dunnwell Construction says he gets a lot of remodeling leads from an interior designer. These are typically quality leads that turn into big jobs. When these hot leads come across his desk, he bids on them with the information he gets from the designer. He gets all of the background he needs to move forward with the bid, and he knows there is a good chance that he will get the job. The referral also means those potential customers are already vouched for, so they will likely be more pleasant to work with than other, unknown prospective buyers.
For cold leads, take time to assess the type of lead you have before moving forward with your bid. Establishing a rapport will help establish whether you and the potential customer are a good fit for each other. Be ridiculously helpful, offer advice, and don’t be afraid to warm up those cool leads before submitting a bid.
2. Determine the Age of the Plumbing and Wiring
Before bidding on a home restoration project, you need to check out the guts of the home system.
Old homes often have old, dangerous plumbing and wiring. If you are going to update the home, its internal system may need expensive repairs or replacement, and this is often not just a matter of taste.
You might find that things aren’t up to code.
Check the plumbing and wiring while conducting your walkthrough of the home. Talk to a plumber and electrician so you can add their bids to your project. That way, you can provide the homeowner with a comprehensive bid that covers all of the necessary costs. Then, you won’t have to add change orders to the project once you get started.
3. Check the Home’s Structural Integrity
Looking at a home’s structural integrity requires a more thorough inspection than you normally give for a remodeling estimate. Often, old homes have such bad structural issues that contractors end up installing temporary beams before beginning their work.
Consider the time and resources that goes into making the home safe to work on so you can avoid a future change order and potential safety hazards.
4. Check the Site Access
Easy site access means you can get your equipment and materials to the job site without any issues.
If you have to go down a narrow country road or haul materials and supplies up a small staircase or through a tiny attic window, you will have to spend extra time and money to get all your people and equipment to the proper location.
When you walk the jobsite before giving the estimate, spend time calculating how much effort you’ll need to put into getting your materials to their proper places. If site access is going to be difficult, factor that into your estimate. You’ll be glad you did when you have to build special equipment to lift a jigsaw up the side of a three-story house.
5. Gauge the Actual Versus Estimated Costs on Past Jobs
Using your construction management software, review your past jobs and track your actual versus estimated costs. Doing so will give you a much better idea of how your bids have panned out in the past. You will likely find out that you have either been over or underbidding on projects.
When it comes to construction bidding, accuracy is king. Learning from your old bids will help you become a more respected, reliable home restoration contractor. Word of mouth is important in the construction industry; if you can get several home restoration estimates right in a row, you will have the groundwork to cultivate relationships that can help you get more jobs in the area.
6. Consider Hazardous Waste Removal
Home restoration often includes hazardous waste testing and removal. A lot of construction managers forget to add this into their costs, so they have to either give their unhappy clients change orders or they have to eat the costs. Both are unpleasant options. Instead, look for lead paint, asbestos, and other hazardous materials that you will have to dispose of in a safe and environmentally-friendly way. If you have to outsource the disposal, talk to the necessary contractors and get an estimate beforehand. Have them provide the estimate in writing so you can add it onto your estimate. Then you can include that with your written estimate so your client will understand why he has to pay extra.
7. Think About Mold
Some insiders say that mold is the biggest issue facing those in the remodeling industry, and it’s easy to see why.
Old, damp homes are a breeding ground for mold, and homeowners often don’t realize they have a problem until construction begins.
Unfortunately, when mold is in the home, the house isn’t the only thing at risk. Your crew faces mold exposure as well. The best option is to hire a contractor to remediate the mold before moving forward.
Include mold testing and remediation in the estimate if necessary. Protect your crew from mold exposure and yourself from expensive hazard lawsuits.
When doing a walkthrough, look for old leaks. If you notice an old leak that hasn’t been repaired, there is a good chance that there is mold. Talk to the homeowner about getting the home tested for mold and include it in your bid.
As a construction manager, you want every bid that you give to be your best one yet — even for tough jobs like home restoration. Were there any steps that I missed? Do you think that these are the most important seven? Let me know in the comments below!
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