When Home Improvement Projects Go Wrong

When Home Improvement Projects Go Wrong

Homeowners who take on large scale home improvement projects can run into trouble, particularly if they remain living in the house during construction. There are a variety of reasons why problems can come up, and luckily, expert intervention can offer a solution.


Whether it’s a contractor making promises that can’t be kept, or a homeowner with rose colored glasses, often people have unreasonable expectations about a home improvement project. The most common misconception is the time it will take. Construction is a process – from design, to permitting, to sequencing the trades, changes and the final punch list, a lot goes into each project. Larger scale projects may be exposed to the outdoors, which adds weather into the mix as well. Each of these phases and factors can cause a delay in the project, so even if the contractor gave an estimate on a completion date, homeowners need to be prepared for it to run long.

Another expectation is cost. Homeowners receive a budget proposal from their contractor, but there are any number of ways this budget can change. Some contractors create an “allowance” for details like flooring or fixtures, but the homeowner selects more expensive items. Changes in the work because it doesn’t meet the homeowner’s vision will change the cost as well. In addition, difficulties like finding unseen damage that needs to be repaired will add to the cost. This last issue cannot be helped, but the first two can be addressed up front by early selection of items, and careful attention to design from the outset.


Throughout the construction process there are critical communications that can cause problems for the homeowner. These start with the bid and the construction contract which can be dozens of pages long and still not address all the possible issues. Follow that with the design documents and other communications about the project, and there are multiple times that the parties can make assumptions, get confused or simply misinterpret the intentions of the other side. A builder will be accustomed to using specific vocabulary about the project, but the homeowner may have a lay person’s understanding of these words. As a homeowner, it’s important to ask questions and be certain that everyone is on the same page. In an age of electronic communications, try to get important discussions in writing because that can help with clarity as well.


Even with the best of plans, and the best intentions, things can go wrong. Whether it’s unforeseen circumstances, a homeowner changing their mind or a bad job by the builder, home renovation projects can get derailed in the midst of the work. For the homeowner who lives in the home while the work is in progress, questions and concerns can come up about the daily progress. It is a strain to contend with the noise and disruption of ongoing work, and it’s hard not to have a change of heart about a design detail or increased impatience when workers aren’t on site every day. These factors can create pressure and stress on the relationship with the builder, and homeowners often feel that the builder isn’t delivering on their expectations.


When a construction project has gone wrong, it may help to bring in an advocate. A dissatisfied homeowner can use an expert who knows how to assess and negotiate with the builder, and who can determine the source of the problem. An expert’s interests will align with the homeowner, and they can advise on the best way to get things back on track. Understanding the builder’s perspective, costing issues, quality control and the many other elements that make up even the simplest renovation project, an expert can intervene in the most productive, and cost-effective way on behalf of the homeowner.

Biller & Associates has decades of experience in the construction industry from multiple roles. With the ability to come into a job and help a homeowner when things have derailed, Biller & Associates can help keep costs down and get the homeowner the completed project they were hoping for. Whether it’s advice to fire the builder and hire someone else, clarify expectations or facilitate communications between the parties, Biller & Associates intervenes using expertise to the benefit of the homeowner.

Are you a homeowner experiencing trouble with your home improvement project? Contact Biller & Associates today for a consultation.

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