Chris Gash

During a tough economy, any work that comes your way can be a blessing. So when a Florida remodeler on a LinkedIn group was asked to run a job in North Carolina — in her words, “unfamiliar territory” — what to do?

Ken Bloom, owner of Kitchens by Ken, in Philadelphia, has successfully completed jobs in several states including New York, West Virginia, and Florida. He says the keys to making this work are organization and technology. He offers these suggestions:

  • Decide your role: Bloom basically becomes the project manager on out-of-state jobs. He lets clients know up front that he will do the design and supply the cabinets. “For a little extra money, my local Philly cabinetmaker will deliver,” he says.
  • Find a builder/installer: The home­owner is responsible for finding someone willing to do the build only. Bloom suggests that clients contact their local National Association of the Remodeling Industry branch to find certified people.

Bloom vets the builder by asking specific questions about permitting and other needs. “If they tell me they don’t get permits or that they ask the home­owner for them, then I know I need someone more professional.” Bloom then checks websites that explain permit procedures in the locations he’ll be working in. When looking for a remodeler, Bloom has found that some don’t want to take on a build-only job. “But they may get other work out of it,” Bloom says. “That’s my enticement.”

  • Establish lines of communication: Use all technology available — texts, email, phone calls — to communicate with the client, builder, and other subcontractors retained by the builder.
  • Measure and photograph: If there are no as-built drawings, get someone to measure and photograph every angle of the space. Bloom creates a floor plan using this information and sends it to the builder to confirm.
  • Deal with change orders: Any construction change orders go through the builder. Bloom takes care of all design issues.

Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

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