House Beautiful (USA)
OPEN HOUSE EXPECTATIONS vs. REALITY
The true breadth of a renovation can be hard to grasp. Editorial Director Joanna Saltz spoke with five experts about how they balance what clients think is possible with what’s actually likely to go down.
Jo Saltz: Your job is to sell a perfect vision. So how honest do you feel you’re allowed to be with your clients at the start of a new project? Nicole White: I’m blunt.
Many clients, especially those who come to us through Instagram, don’t realize the full scope of a project. We make contingency budgets mandatory for unexpected issues, like opening a wall to find rotted pipes that would take $20,000 to fix.
Luis Medina: Some clients may you expect to do a project for way less because their aunt or grandma did it for way less. Then they go to someone
who is willing to lie, and they end up disappointed. To avoid miscommunication, we document everything.
Samantha Josaphat-Medina: We have potential clients fill out a questionnaire. It tells us if their project aligns with their budget and schedule. On our initial call, we go over what’s possible. If only Instagram showed people how much one image costs!
Jo: For so long, TV has perpetuated this myth in the world. But Instagram is a big driver now. How has that affected your job?
Damian Samora: We have to sell reality. When you have a potential client, it’s a relationship. You’re going to date for a while, you’re going to be married for years, and you’re going to have some tough conversations. But if you keep the communication open, you’ll know everyone’s done their best, even if the bills are higher than expected.
Betsy Wentz: I only move forward with clients I develop trust with at the beginning. It’s important to be up front about the business you do and what they’re looking for to avoid heartbreak.
Luis: It’s becoming more important to not give in to the pressure of saying you’ll make it work. You can’t get furniture or services for free. Damian: In the world of Zoom, you also have to overcommunicate to elicit definitive responses from people in order to move forward. You can’t get good eye contact or read body language virtually. Jo: Human connectivity is the piece of it that’s always challenging.
Nicole: I almost lost a client because we relied on texts and