1 in 8 clients ask remodeler Scott Balentine about purchasing their own products; up from 1 in 20 a few years ago.
Eric Palma 1 in 8 clients ask remodeler Scott Balentine about purchasing their own products; up from 1 in 20 a few years ago.

For Lifestyles Custom Homes & Remodeling, in Overland Park, Kan., more and more clients are purchasing products for their projects. Owner Scott Balentine says that many peers in his local NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) chapter avoid accepting these types of jobs, while “others are adopting the same mindset our company has: If the consumer shift is in that direction then, to some extent, we’re going to have to deal with it. If you put a tool in place to help the homeowner through that process, it can be amicable for both parties.”

The first time one of Balentine’s clients purchased products online, the faucet they ordered lacked all the necessary parts. “That was an eye-opener for us,” the remodeler says, and he now cautions clients about online purchases. Also, before clients place an order, Balentine asks to review the specifications, for example, to make sure that the farmhouse sink the client is about to buy will actually fit the cabinet base.

Define & Clarify

When Balentine creates a project’s scope of work, he itemizes which materials are his company’s responsibility and which are the client’s. The company’s contract also contains two sections specific to client-supplied materials. The first states that Lifestyles Custom Homes will charge for the labor and materials required to repair or replace any defective materials or fixtures and any surrounding work damaged by defective materials or fixtures provided by the client. The second defines the extent of the company’s warranty, specifying that Lifestyles’ two-year warranty doesn’t cover products or materials furnished by the homeowner.

Installation Expertise

Recently a client purchased products for a basement remodel through membership club DirectBuy, which also has designers on staff. “We did the layout and construction plans,” Balentine says, then the DirectBuy designer used the plans to order the tile and cabinetry. Balentine says that he had some contact with DirectBuy’s designer about the cabinets because they were a large-ticket item and he wanted to make sure they would fit into the space. And, although DirectBuy does offer an installation option on some products, the clients had more confidence in Lifestyles’ ability to do the installation and opted to have the remodeler do that work.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.