Experts share tips for finding your Kansas City home design dream team
Story by Kelsey Cipolla and Chelsea Koehly
We’ve all heard the home renovation horror stories: projects that never seem to end, budgets that skyrocket and results that turn home improvement fantasies into nightmares.
Hiring the right team to take on a job in your home makes all the difference. To make sure you get the most out of your investment and end up with the results you want, take some advice from the experts.
Doing your research is critical to the success of a project, says Arlene Ladegaard, owner of the award-winning interior design firm Design Connection, Inc.
“Whatever you’re looking for, get some information ahead of time,” she says.
Look for companies that keep their websites updated and are eager to show off their latest work. Prospective clients should also check to see if companies have won awards or are members of any professional organizations, according to Ladegaard. Service providers who are affiliated with industry groups, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, often have to meet certain standards and are held more accountable for complaints they receive from clients.
Home improvement projects are big investments, so don’t shy away from asking questions. Ladegaard recommends asking companies how current their project photos are and whether they are willing to provide the names of at least three clients from the last year you can call as references.
“If somebody is going off a recommendation that was a couple of years old, they may have completely changed their lead carpenters, and they may be having a very different experience,” she says.
The team at Zaarly, a free online resource for Kansas Citians looking to hire hand-picked and personally tested home service providers, suggests asking neighbors for recommendations and doing online research to see if there are before and after photos available. The web can also provide a bounty of reviews, but take them with a grain of salt—it can be hard to discern authentic reviews from those that are fake or paid.
Once you have a few candidates in mind, it’s important to be very clear on what exactly will be done, the timeline for completion and the agreed-upon cost.
“We recommend you steer clear of anyone who doesn’t return phone calls in a timely manner, won’t give pricing (in writing) based on your specific needs, can’t give you a timeframe (again in writing) for completion or isn’t bonded or backed by some kind of guarantee,” a Zaarly spokesperson says.
Good Work, Guaranteed
If that process sounds like a giant headache waiting to happen, turn to a company like Zaarly for peace of mind.
It puts local home service providers through a rigorous application process that includes interviews and background and reference checks. You can also read reviews from other people who have hired the experts, who specialize in almost anything related to taking care of a home, from moving to remodeling and decluttering to plumbing, online without hiding any negative reviews. For added security, the company provides a $10,000 money-back guarantee.
Other local options include JoeBid, a Kansas City-based company that launched last year, offering KC homeowners a free and easy way to view pre-screened contractors and receive bids on their home improvement needs. One thing that’s unique about JoeBid? It doesn’t charge homeowners for use of the site and only charges contractors when they are making money on jobs obtained through it.
The company’s president, Andrew Chapman, knows firsthand how trying a renovation can be. He and his wife came up with the concept for the company after purchasing a home that needed work. The long, drawn-out process of finding the right contractor and getting the right bid convinced the two that there had to be a better way. “We did this massive pivot towards the home improvement industry,” Chapman says.
Ultimately, a good contractor or home improvement team should be meeting or exceeding your expectations, communicating clearly and caring for your home the same way you do, says Zaarly. If that’s not happening, your next home project should be finding new service providers.