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Is It Time For A New Way To Professionalize The Remodeling Industry?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Aug 20,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Is It Time For A New Way To Professionalize The Remodeling Industry?

New direction for the remodeling industry


Trade associations and even individual remodelers have been trying for years to improve the professionalism of the remodeling industry.  I’ve been involved in this effort myself now for over 20 years.  I definitely think all the effort has been worth it.  Not because I think all the effort has made significant improvements, I really don’t think they have.  Rather I think all the effort has been helpful in preventing the situation from becoming worse.   That’s my opinion from my perspective.  Your opinion may be different.  If it is please feel free to respectfully express it below in the comments area of this blog post.


Unfortunately I think our industry has become excellent at being mediocre.    

And, it appears, the majority of remodeling consumers have even settled on the fact that they will need to accept mediocre performance from their remodeler if they want to get work done on their homes.  Let’s face it; there is even a majority of home owners who literally care about nothing more than total price when they go about selecting a remodeler.  In my opinion most consumers spend more time researching options about the purchase of a television before they choose one than they do before choosing a remodeler.


Maybe we need to think about why consumers spend so little time and effort choosing the right remodeler.  

Has our industry not offered to educated consumers properly so they know how to differentiate between remodelers?  I think it has.  Let’s face it many good remodelers and the trade associations they belong to have been trying to do so for years and although all the effort may have been successful with some consumers, there are still plenty of illegally operating and poor quality contractors working on homes every day.  If consumers were not willing to hire them they wouldn’t be working.


I think it’s time for some radical tactics to change the situation. 

I’ll through a few out here to get the conversation going.  Feel free to offer your opinion on them or to offer your own. - I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people....I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


Strategy #1

Unless there is skin in the game for the consumer on this issue why would they change their attitudes and behaviors?   Maybe we should make it mandatory that consumers only hire legal and legitimately licensed contractors for home improvements.  Also, why not make them responsible for the due diligence required to make sure their contractor meets these requirements.  And, if they choose to work with an illegal contractor, leave them on their own.   For example leave them no ability to take the contractor to court.  In fact, why not arrest and fine the home owner for hiring an illegal contractor?


Strategy #2

Home inspectionHow about before any real-estate is sold why not require a comprehensive inspection and inventory of the home be done?   By doing so we could document the condition and configuration of that property.  The next time that property is sold, the same inspection should happen again; plus any changes in status should be identified and listed.  Then the property owner should have to provide proof that any work done that required a building permit and final inspection sign-off was actually obtained.  If it’s a pre 1978 home all required RRP paperwork must be provided as well.   If any of this can’t be provided by the seller, the property can’t be sold.  And, if such information cannot be provided the entire property must be brought up to current building code standards and be dust wipe tested for lead paint contamination before it can be sold.


The likelihood of implementation of the two scenarios I offer above is slim to none

I’m sure everyone reading this would have their own reasons why.  Current politicians would never support such strategies because if they did they would never get reelected.   If all home owners had to pay the full legal price of home improvements the majority of Americans could never afford to own a home and homes would probably never become an investment.   I all contractors had to be legal the majority of current contractors wouldn’t do it, many probably couldn’t dfo it.


Reasons or excuses?

To me it seems that all the reasons why we can’t professionalize and legalize the remodeling industry are really just excuses. Because our industry doesn’t have the guts to do it, often for selfish reasons, it will likely never happen.  

If we don’t do it ourselves we may be at the risk that the government will try to do it and force it upon us.   Just think about the RRP rule if you don’t agree. 

And, if this home buyer who bought a flip gone wrong gets his way we might all regret our industry didn’t take our destiny into our own hands…


Future of the remodeling industry

What say you?

Topics: Future of the Remodeling Industry, Government Regulations, Shawn's Predictions