Design, Outcome Key Determinants of Satisfaction, Poll Finds

DES PLAINES, IL — Remodeling means far more to today's consumers than simply providing upgrades for the home. In contrast, it is a process in which interior and exterior spaces are literally "reinvented" as part of a collaborative effort between homeowner and designer, to address current and changing lifestyles.

That's the key finding of a new consumer poll conducted by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The online survey - which involved more than 200 remodeling consumers and was conducted between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2010 - revealed that 49% of homeowners consider "outcome and design" as the greatest determinant of remodeling project satisfaction.

By comparison, 22% of the consumers surveyed reported that "having their needs met" was the key to project satisfaction, while 20% replied that "accessibility and timeliness of the remodeler during the project" was the major determinant of project satisfaction. Surprisingly, "finishing on time" (4%) and "safety precautions and cleanliness of the remodel" (6%) were far less significant (see related pie chart, below).

"Long gone are the days of homeowners putting in new finishes and appliances in their home and calling it a ‘successful remodel'," said NARI National President-Elect Michael Hydeck, MCR, CKBR, of Hydeck Design Build.

"Today's homeowners are smarter and more strategic when it comes to remodeling their homes," Hydeck observed. "They want their design to cater perfectly to their lifestyles and how they intend to use the space."

The unstable, slumping economy may have had an impact on the survey's findings, according to the Des Plaines, IL-based NARI, which cited "a more practical attitude toward spending [that] has amplified the homeowner's involvement in each step of the remodeling process."

NARI noted that today's notion of "good design" means more than merely the customization of the home.

"Design can result in multi-functional capabilities to a room - for example, a kitchen that also serves as an adjacent living space," NARI said. "Or, it can enhance the flow of the space by widening walkways and adding more access to the space from various parts of the home."

"Once my clients start to sense the magnitude of possibilities within a remodeling project, they start to get very specific about the design and how it's going to impact their space," Hydeck comments.

According to Hydeck, it's wise to put clients through special exercises to get them to think about their lifestyles.

"It's my job to ask clients detailed questions about how they live and the things that are most important to them in order to create a perfect space," Hydeck explains. "Whether it's a questionnaire or a walk-through of the current home, the main goal is that the remodeler knows what's desired."

The NARI poll also suggests that in order to be successful as a remodeler today, "you must have full transparency with your clients," Hydeck said.

"That usually means open communication lines and joint decision-making in every aspect of the job - budget, design, material selection, timeline and management," he noted, adding that it also reflects the long-term perspective most people have when it comes to their homes.

"My clients remodel their home for the rest of their lives," Hydeck said. "They don't think of remodeling as a short-term investment."