Archives for May 2012

Everybody should have some skin in the game

The home improvement industry is plagued by many interesting individuals that really do not have the consumers’ best interests in mind.  From marketing schemes, to inferior products, to questionable business actions; the “here today, gone tomorrow” mentality of some of my industry comrades can be quite embarrassing.

There are many issues that help set the table for this mess.  First and foremost, the consumer must understand that it is fairly simple to get into this business.  For the most part, a person with limited carpentry skills, a pickup, some tools, and a little ambition can start a construction company.  Throw in a cell phone, and a do it yourself website, and you are suddenly anointed with the title of expert.

The window replacement industry has also complicated things with their use of subcontracted installations.  (In this scenario, the homeowner may not even be aware this is happening.)  The process can operate something like this.  The homeowner purchases windows from Big Bob’s Discount Windows.  Big Bob, whose any size double hung is always $189 installed, turns around and “assigns” the install to Dave’s Quality Window Installations.  Dave shows up at Bob’s warehouse to pick up the windows and heads to the job site for the installation.  Dave has never seen the house; all he knows is that he gets $25 per window installed.  Dave, knowing that his compensation from Big Bob is extremely limited, rushes the install, and hurriedly cuts some corners.  Months later (or in some cases only days later) the homeowner has issues with his new windows; and calls Big Bob with a service request.  After a lengthy delay, Bob finally comes out to inspect the problem.  The homeowner is frustrated to learn that Bob claims the windows are fine, BUT that they were installed wrong, and he now must call Dave. Dave eventually arrives and points his finger at Big Bob’s cheap windows….the pattern of irresponsibility is just passed onto another.

Window replacement companies use subcontracted installations because it is simply a cheaper way of getting the windows installed.  No vehicles to provide for employees, no benefits to issue to employees, no installation responsibility…..I think you get the picture. 

With a window installation from Richard Larson Builders, there is no divided responsibility.  Our experienced employees install your windows.  Yes, the initial investment may be more to do it this way, but in a world filled with fast and immediate, after 45 years of service in central Minnesota we prefer accurate and correct.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

The Most Interesting Man in the World is an advertising campaign for the Dos Equis brand of beer.  The ads feature an actor by the name of Johnathan Goldsmith, whose claim, through the ad campaign, is his hilarious and intriguing personality aspects.  The narrator of the commercials explains that The Most Interesting Man in the World, “once taught a German shepherd to bark in Spanish,” or “he once had an awkward moment…just to see how it felt,” or even “his personality is so magnetic, that he is unable to carry credit cards!”  As the commercials end, Goldsmith always finishes with, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”

Although some of my friends may want to take the advice literally, I would like to try to apply a different spin on it.  The thirst for knowledge is a never ending challenge, and, that knowledge is key for any successful home improvement, remodeling, or new construction project.  As we enter the remodeling season, your attempt to “stay thirsty” with construction knowledge should always include these issues that need to be addressed with your potential contractor:


Licensed/Insured:  Without a doubt, the most important questions to ask your contractor is about licensing and insurability.  Every contractor should be able to provide you with a copy of his/her license, and also be able to show you a certificate of insurance coverage.  (If either of these are lacking…do not, under any circumstance, allow this contractor to proceed.)

Product Knowledge:  Take the time to research the products that your contractor recommends.  A simple Google search may be adequate, but you also may need to invest the time into your own research.  Look for on-line reviews or forums that discuss each product.  You will be surprised at the vast amount of information you can aquire through these sources.  Education is expensive, however, so is trial and error.

Do Not Make Emotionally Charged Decisions:  Storm season in the upper Midwest has already started.  “Storm Chasers,” contractors that follow storms with damaging winds and large hail make a very good living preying on customers whose world is temporarily turned upside down with storm damage.  It is impossible to make a logical decision when you are emotionally involved.  If you feel rushed, confronted, or intimidated by a potential contractor, continue to look for other alternatives.

Stay Thirsty My Friends is great advice, and that thirst for knowledge will help alleviate many headaches when it comes to your remodeling project.




Larson Builders