Facade of a 1940s house.
courtesy Small Carpenters and Large Facade of a 1940s house.

Comparing before and after photographs reveals the dramatic changes and craftsmanship of high-end remodels. One remodeler uses the strategy to create a “wow factor” with both current and future customers.

Small Carpenters at Large, of Atlanta, began using before and after photos of a select number of remodeling projects back when a traditional camera and roll of film were the tools of choice. The task was labor-intensive and required multiple visits to the jobsite, a trip to the photo shop, and time spent assembling the hard-copy prints into a presentable format.

courtesy Small Carpenters and Large

Then digital cameras came along. “As soon as that happened, we started using before-and-after presentations on all of our projects,” says Amanda Johnson, designer for the 28-year-old company.

Useful Tool

Johnson handles all of the photography, taking the photos on her first visit to the jobsite and referring to them during the design process. Existing moldings and electrical panels, for example, can easily be pinpointed and factored into the design without having to make another visit to the home.

As the project progresses, Johnson takes photos to show the changes that are taking place. In some cases she might snap photos of the plumbing and wiring within the walls before the drywall is hung. “That saves us time trying to figure out where we put an outlet or the blocking for the toilet paper holder,” Johnson says.

When the job is nearing completion, she tacks a few recent photos to a wall in the house and goes over them with the owners to review any finishing touches that the project might need. Upon project completion, the photos are loaded onto a CD, labeled with the company’s logo, and presented to the owner.

The Small Carpenters and Large Web site features before and after photos, including these of the complete exterior restoration of an 1890s historic house.
courtesy Small Carpenters and Large The Small Carpenters and Large Web site features before and after photos, including these of the complete exterior restoration of an 1890s historic house.

courtesy Small Carpenters and Large

Johnson, who estimates that she and other staff members put about five to 10 hours into creating each project CD, says that homeowners have come to appreciate the extra effort. “They get excited over it because many times they’ve forgotten how the home used to be,” she says, “and because this isn’t something they’ve taken the time to do throughout the construction process.”

Worth the Effort

Other than a few hundred dollars spent on a digital camera, printer ink, and CD-ROM discs, the cost of creating that “wow” is minimal for the company, which uploads select before-and-after photos to its Web site to serve as a marketing tool.

For Johnson and the rest of the team at Small Carpenters at Large, taking the photos, creating the CDs, and uploading the images to the company Web site has become a natural part of each project. “The investment is small and the payoff is significant,” Johnson says, “especially when you see a client’s face when he or she sees the before and afters side by side for the first time.”

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer in Dunedin, Fla.