Monday, March 25, 2013

Three Signs That You Could Be Working With The Wrong Construction Company

When you've worked in the construction business as long as CustomSmart Homes has been, you tend to hear a lot of interesting stories from fellow construction workers and clients about some real project horror stories.  Some people have hired builders that lied about their qualifications, or have signed up to work with "green" construction groups who didn't know the first thing about building energy efficient homes.  Custom Smart Homes ratings show that our customers have been able to get the homes they wanted without any false pretenses, but other people haven’t been so lucky.  If you're thinking about hiring a construction company or contractor to work on your home or business, look for these red flags so you can prevent being swindled. 

Red Flag #1: They ask for a lot of money up front

There isn't a construction company or worker around that can start a project without any funds from clients, but the people you choose to work with shouldn't be asking for half of the money upfront before they even start laying out their plans.  Most states have limits on how much money contractors can ask for before they begin construction work, and most tend to ask for around 10%-15% of the initial costs before they start their work.  If you're working with a contractor that asks for 1/3 or ½ of the money before hand, you're working with somebody who is trying to scam you out of your money.

Red Flag #2: They can't give you a straight on answer on who will be at the construction site

Every person who is trying to get a home or building built needs to ask about site supervision.  This question isn't just important to ensure that the project will be properly supervised; it's also to protect the client from any legal troubles.  If the contractor you hire decides to not pay their workers, in some states it's legal for workers and subcontractors place a mechanic's lien on your home or property in order to sue clients for compensation.  You can protect yourself from this by having each subcontractor and materials supplier sign lien releases or waivers each time you make a payment.

Proceed with Caution: Their payment schedule is based on pre-set dates and not actual completed work

Determining the payment schedule is up to the clients and the companies and/or individuals they're working with.  Some construction companies choose to ask their clients for payments once major construction milestones are reached, like scheduling another payment for after the foundation work is completed or when the electrical work is done.  Other construction companies choose to center their payment schedules on set dates and not work completion, and inherently there isn't anything wrong with that method either. 
Planning payments around the calendar instead of when work is completed gives the client a predictable payment schedule.  But some unscrupulous construction companies insist on being paid on certain dates to ensure that they get their money regardless of it their work is done.  If your construction company bases their payment schedule off of the calendar and not their work, you should do look up business reviews and past customer experiences to see if they're a reputable company.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two Effective Customer Communication Techniques

Communications technology is evolving a rapid pace, and some businesses can have trouble trying to keep up with new advancements.  When you're working in the construction business proper customer communication is key, and at CustomSmart Homes we do our best to keep our clients informed and encourage them to come to us with any questions they may have.  People always have questions during the building process, and whether our clients want to know more about our building process or want to know more about the green technology that'll be used in their new home, we're ready to answer them.  Custom Smart Home reviews reflect the effective communication techniques we use with our customers, and other businesses could benefit from using some of our techniques.  If you think that your customers could benefit from new communication techniques, try using some of these methods.

E-mail Updates

Confirmation e-mails have been around for a while now, people can expect to see the inbox flooded with messages that let them know that their orders have been shipped and that their bills have been paid.  E-mails to customers need to have more information aside from letting them know basic information.    Tracking numbers for retail products are a must; and customers should know about any delays or other things out of the ordinary they should expect.  Businesses should also get into the habit of e-mailing their customers weekly updates when they're working on long term projects with their clients.  A few sentences about a project's progress won't just give your client's an informative update, it'll also help reassure them that their work is being done well and on time.

Post Project/Product Reports

Following up with customers after they've done business with you is an effective way to ensure that your customers are satisfied with your services.  You could add a page devoted to customer feedback on your company's website, but if you want to learn about your customer's experiences you need to make more of an effort to get them.  Have someone on your customer service staff spend time calling past customers to ask them a few questions about their experience with your company.  Customers will like that you're showing an interest in their opinions, and receiving a call from an actual person instead of a brief e-mail asking them about their opinion shows helps drive home that sentiment.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Crucial Tax Credit Extended for Green Home Builders

Don't forget about your possible green tax benefits either

When it comes to building energy efficient homes in Tennessee, Custom Smart Homes is the undisputed champion.  We've helped a variety of families make their green home dreams come true by helping them plan and build their ultimate energy efficient smart home.  Our modular building strategy allows our clients to have their homes built fast, and also saves them money on building costs.  Tennessee residents can appreciate the work we do in the state, and now other groups are trying to make sure that home builders across the country who specialize in building green homes get the recognition and benefits they deserve.

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1995 in order to help US residents reduce their utility costs by making their homes more energy efficient.  The U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. mortgage industry all recognize RESNET as an important ally in the fight to make American homes more eco-friendly.  RESNET's recent bi-partisan lobbying work has ensured that home builders who specialize in building energy efficient homes can still receive a much needed tax credit.

Before RESNET efforts the Energy Efficient Homes Tax Credit was due to expire in the near future, but now the important tax credit has been extended to December 31, 2013.  The new tax credit extension is part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, and the extension of the important credit shows how important energy efficiency is even during difficult economic times. 

The tax credit extension won't just help home builders; it'll help the millions of people in the country who want to own an energy efficient home.  The tax credit home builders receive will help them save money on labor and supply costs, and their savings will trickle down to home owners.  Home builders who wish to qualify need to prove that the heating and cooling energy consumption levels of their new homes are at least 50% lower than those of comparable homes constructed as per the 2006 IECC.