Estimate vs Estimate - KC Home Solutions vs The other guys

From time to time we'll go to a home and talk with a potential customer. Generally speaking, one of the questions that comes up will be the difference between us and other general contractors in our processes and how we do things. Recently though we have had a few estimates approved (thanks for that) and we try to find out what we did that helped us earn the business. Here are a few of the answers we got the last several times.

1) "We choose KC Home Solutions because your estimates were detailed." This has actually been something that we have heard as a negative on a couple of follow-ups as well. So how can it be a positive AND a negative? Well we line item nearly every aspect of the job. In our experience most people like the idea of knowing what they are getting for their money. Because of that reason we will continue to go that route. The negative? Some people have expressed that they were overwhelmed with information and found our bid confusing.

Keep this in mind, if you get a bid from us and you have questions, you can always ask us. Want us to eliminate something, maybe you changed your mind, no problem, just let us know. Give us an opportunity to make our bid exactly what you are looking for. We may still not be in your price range for whatever reason, and that's ok, give us a chance to adjust as necessary and there will definitely be no hard feelings on our end if you go another direction.

2) "You guys don't have any hidden fees, the other guys do." This is one that we were surprised to hear about. One shocker on our end was a customer telling us that a previous contractor made them purchase everything for the work to be done. For example, barn doors. The GC told the customer what they needed them to order (exact door size, hardware, etc), the client asked if the GC would order it as she didn't feel comfortable doing it. The GC told them they could order the barn doors for them but they would charge the client an additional 30% above the retail purchase price of the doors. Seriously. We couldn't believe it either. 

With KC Home Solutions if you want to purchase a light fixture and have us install it, no problem. If you want us to pick something out and have us purchase it, still not a problem. We'll build the cost of the light fixture in to the bid. We aren't going to add additional expenses on for doing it. We are about treating you the way we would want to be treated. 

3) "Permits? You guys pull permits?" 99% of all projects require permits from a respective city. What doesn't? Repairing a fence for example. What does require a permit? Well it can vary from location to location. But here's the deal. We pull permits because it protects everyone involved. You are assured that the electrical, plumbing. framing, insulation, fireblocking, etc is not only getting done but done correctly. A lot of contractors won't pull permits because they are time consuming and depending on the size of the project can be kind of costly. 

Once again, KC Home Solutions is not about cutting corners. Permits aren't fun, not going to lie, they can be a pain. But in the end it's not only the law in most cases, it's the right thing to do. 

Is there a question you have been itching to ask us? New home build? Basement needing finished? Master bath needing an update? Still rocking early 90's brass in your master bathroom? Whatever it is, give us an opportunity to earn your business and we think you may be surprised in the difference from the "other guys" and KC Home Solutions!

Fire It Up! What Would We Do Wednesday

I guess when people get hot in the midwest their thoughts turn to fire. At least it appears that way to us! In the last week we have had requests for, wait for it, fireplace options. Yeah, probably the last thing most of us would think about too. Clearly a few people in the Kansas City area can't wait for it to get cold, can't blame them for that I guess.

So on this week's WWWDW article we are going to take on fireplace remodeling! It may not be as daunting of a task as you would think.

Does that look familiar?

Or maybe this one?

Chances are, unless your home is only 10 or so years old, you may have one of these relics in your living, den or basement. I would imagine that most people simply deal with it and think that it's just too much work and too expensive to change. Well guess what? It may not be, it just depends on what you want to do with the space. So what are your options?

Easiest option is to paint the brick. It's gonna take a lot of paint, but it's do-able. Of course you don't need us for that now do you?

Another option? Remove the brick. Now you might want to give us a call for this task. It's gonna get really dusty and messy. Generally speaking these set-ups are not one piece full front to back brick and mortar structures. Meaning you can remove levels of brick and find a substructure of some kind, but you never know. The older the home the more likely it will be a full structure.

Another option? Covering the brick with something else. Stone, metal and tile are the three most common cover options. In some cases you can attach directly on to the brick, with some stone and most tile options. In others you may need to frame the brick and basically build a box around it, attach a backer board and then affix the product.

Painted brick example

Resurfacing example, laying stone directly on the brick.

Modern stainless steel electric fireplace with mounted TV and great accent pieces

There are a variety of ways to spruce up your dated fireplace. Don't sit there another night looking at that fire smoke burnt nasty thing. You don't have to just deal with it. Change it! Call us if you want some ideas or some help.

A REALLY GOOD QUESTION!

I was asked a question this week that I wasn't prepared to answer. It didn't so much throw me for a loop, but rather I just had never really thought about the question before. So what was this stunning question?

How is your company different or better than the next?

It was an opportunity to brag on KC Home Solutions. It was an open invitation to leave the client feeling great about having an extra piece of information to help make an informed decision. It was where I should have sold what we do...and I fell flat on my face. Hashtag fail for those of your social media fans out there. But I've had almost 36 hours to stew on this and here are a few things I (should) have come up with. 

1) Communication - We pride ourselves on this topic. Whether you working on a special design idea, looking to get help with a tile pattern, finalizing a paint color or making a change mid-project, you can lean on us to be there for you. Everyone that works on our staff including our subcontractors, we all want to see your project end up exactly how you expect it to.

2) Budget - When we write a number on your estimate, that's what we are going to stick with. We all have budgets in our personal lives for all sorts of things and no one ever wants to be concerned with wondering from week to week if it will change. Of course unexpected things arise, but that's where topic one comes back up and we work with you to help make the most informed decision possible. 

3) Trust - Compared to other companies out there, we are young. But in a short amount of time we have earned the trust and respect of many people. When you treat people as you want to be treated. Respect, honesty, communication, craftsmanship, attention to detail and a lot of smiles. We work hard but have fun doing it. Our completed projects speak for themselves but so do Angie's List Awards...and you can read about all of those HERE!

Have a question you want answered? Shoot it our way, we would love to answer a bunch of questions in our next Tuesday article. 

Get Dirty - What Would We Do Wednesday

Some people have the extra space, others don't, but a mudroom is a really cool space that most people aren't taking advantage of. This concept isn't new but the extra design and customization certainly is. Most home in the past had a simple bench, maybe a built in box-bench that you could put some things in. Now, well having extra full size storage is the trend, and it is a great trend in our opinion.

Of course, generally speaking, the main household is going to be the only one's utilizing the mud-room entrance but they are being built near the front of houses too now. Gone is the day that the front entry is reserved for a grandiose open space. 

Maybe it's the athlete in me, but I really enjoy the above picture. It looks like a rustic old locker room set up, almost country club golf-ish in a way. The extra light coming from the outside and the soft wall color and white trim balance the rich wood stain very well.

The mudroom/laundry room is also gaining steam in the design world. The tile floor allows for easy cleaning and dumping snowy shoes or muddy boots. Having the washer and dryer right there makes for easy access and convenience. 

Don't limit your home to traditional use. Be creative, see the possibilities and give us a chance to help bring your vision to life. So, who's ready to get dirty?!

Flip the Switch with KC Home Solutions

We have been excited at KC Home Solutions over the last few months. There have been a lot of calls and requests for us to provide estimates and we have been extremely busy. It looks like all the talking that you are doing about us is paying off (we appreciate the kind words and referrals!) Recently we have been in discussion with a few people and a couple of companies that are looking for ideas and opportunities for us to help with flipping homes. So what's the deal with that, how does it work?

Here are a few suggestions and things to keep in mind when looking for a contractor to work for you on a house flip. In no particular order.

Have a realistic timeline based on your project. Keep in mind that the shows you see on TV, while real, are also staged. Some of the timelines and completion dates are simply not feasible in a "normal" setting. Basically, good luck finding a contractor who will work 20 hour days and weekends.

Drastic transformations, like the fire damaged "gut-job" pictured above are neither quick nor particularly cheap. The TV shows do a great job giving figures on transformations that sound too good to be true and they likely may be. Some shows have a lot of donated products and the production companies may sometimes pay for some labor expenses rather than passing it along to a homeowner. HGTV for example has several great shows but some of the pricing they talk about makes US question how the contractors stay in business. An entirely new kitchen with appliances for $8,000? We want that pricing too!

Finally, communication is key. You don't have to have your contractor on speed-dial, but if you have a question or concern make it known. Don't ever assume that you were 100% clear when talking about something. From our end, we would rather you call or email us twice and feel like you are annoying us than end up doing a job wrong. Just like the old adage says, measure twice, cut once!

Looking for a general contractor to help with your full house remodel? Give us an opportunity to earn your business, we love a good challenge!

What Would We Do Wednesday - Go Play Outside

With the exception of today's weather in Kansas City (65 degrees in July is RARE), getting outside and spending time on a back patio is something a lot of people love doing on summer evenings. Recently we have been getting several requests for outdoor living areas. From a space similar to the one picture above, to something similar to the one pictured below.

What's great about outside living spaces and kitchen's are that they can make for not only simple relaxing with family but they also great for entertaining. The options and design that you go choose make just about anyone happy. From built in bars to fireplaces, multiple mounted televisions to gas line fed stoves with custom vent hoods.  

We have been fortunate to have built several outdoor living spaces, check them out on our website when you have a moment. We hope that we'll be able to bring you several new options to check out when we complete additional projects. 

If you have something that you are thinking you would like to do, let us know. A custom built outdoor living space can be affordable and functional not only in the summer but the winter as well. 

When Nature Calls...

So we had yet another KC Home Solutions first yesterday. I was at a home in Olathe when some not so fun weather rolled in to the Kansas City metro. Here's how everything played out, it's a fun story!

I'm talking with the homeowners in their master bathroom when both of their cell phones made the same sound at the same time. I had my cell phone on silent, otherwise mine would have made the same noise. It's the "uh, time to pay attention to the sky" sound. They both pulled their phones and read the text message, "severe weather threat in your area...TORNADO WARNING." I pulled my phone from my pocket and I had the same message. Funny, I thought, haven't heard the tornado sirens go off...moments later came that unmistakable sound that this small town Kansas kid grew up hearing each summer.

Down to the basement we all go (even though my 1st instinct is to go outside and look around). The TV is turned on in the basement and we are watching one of the local KC news stations. Not one. Not two but THREE tornado warnings end up being placed in Johnson County, and of course each warning gets its own siren by the City of Olathe. Oh and double-bonus for me, the track of one of the tornadoes is towards where I live. I was in the basement with the homeowners for about a half-hour waiting for the worst to clear past us. The boss was nice enough to check on me too! Once we felt it was safe enough we went back up to the master bathroom and I finished taking measurements and getting all the details we need to send an estimate.

In the end the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri stated today that there were in fact 2 EF0 tornadoes in the Kansas City metro yesterday. Thankfully no one was hurt and there was only minor damage.

Moral of the story here? It doesn't matter if you are at home or work, take all severe weather threats seriously. This time we were able to laugh about it, next time we may not be as fortunate. Be safe out there everyone, we don't live in a place dubbed Tornado Alley by accident!

What Would We Do Wednesday - Basement Potential

If you had to ask us what we are best at, of everything we do in regards to remodeling, I would imagine most of our guys would say basements. Unfinished basements like the one pictured above make us smile. There are so many options and ways to go. We aren't talking just about new home construction either, there are many basements that were built or finished years ago that have options as well.

So what options are there? Of course you can go with the basic finish, meaning four walls, ceiling and outlets. The picture above has a egress window meaning that you could add a basement bedroom. Most guys are always wanting to go with the epic man cave set up, which we are fans of. Don't forget the wet bar option or if you have high enough ceilings you can go with a nice movie viewing set up.

Nice wet bar with built-in's and engineered hardwood flooring.

Small basement's have options too. Don't limit what you think can be done just because you don't have a large space to start with.

Just remember, if you can dream it, we can do it! So if you want a spa in your basement, just give us your vision and let us pull it together. Swimming pool? We've never done that, but we're up for the challenge! 

FREEDOM!

"Get busy demoing or get busy somewhere else." So I may not have that quote correct from Shawshank Redemption, it's close. Or not. Just don't make us crawl through your main sewer line, okay? So I was talking with some prospective clients today and they were asking a few questions that gave me a thought about the topic of today's article. 

Of course it helped that the 4th of July is coming up this weekend when thinking about freedom. So why this topic from a general contractor? Because unlike some other companies, we have no problem letting you do some things on your own to save some money. You want to do the paint work yourself? No problem. You have a family friend that owns a carpet store that can do that for you? Sounds good! 

We are a small company and while we trust everyone that works for us and with us, we understand the desire to save money when it's possible to do so. 

If Captain America has volunteered to come in and install the tile in your new bathroom, we would love to meet him, shake his hand, and we aren't going to argue with him at all if he takes a little longer than our guys would have. The biggest factor for us is that you get the quality and end result that you are looking for. By the way, does anyone know if Flash does construction? We would like to talk to him if he does, just saying. Of course there are a few things that we will want to leave to the licensed pros such as electrical and plumbing.

Would you be willing to trade all the (demo) days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our (design) enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom (to do our our painting or anything else we want to do ourselves)!!!

What Would We Do Wednesday - We can keep a secret

First off, we aren't working a remodel in the Oval Office...yet. Although we would likely have to charge some travel expenses if we got that bid. Trust me, if we got a bid to do work in at the White House you guys would already know. 

So why the quasi-hidden door? Because we are building a hidden room for a homeowner! Now, before you get all excited, we aren't going to tell you where it will be installed. However, if we get permission once it's completed, we'll get you some pictures. It will be a while. So what's it going to look like?

The concept is very similar to the picture above. The idea is that when the door is closed you will have no idea that it exists. If you do a google search for hidden rooms you'll see a lot of different concepts, and they are all really cool. There are many designs that can be incorporated and locations to install. We would love to hear your ideas!

If you are looking to get your hidden BatCave entrance built we can work that out, probably even have a hidden button is a statue on your desk just like in Wayne Manor. We promise, your secret identity is safe with us! If you don't mind we would love to get a ride in either the BatWing or Batmobile, either is good with us.