Who's Really in Charge of Home Improvements

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What do women and home improvement contractors have in common? They both agree the man of the house is not the primary decision maker when it comes to managing home improvement projects, at least according to a new survey.
ServiceMagic (http://www.servicemagic.com) conducted a survey around the idea of who is really right in these he-said-she-said battles. In one of its monthly newsletters ServiceMagic asked 490 homeowners and 485 residential contractors who they believed

What do women and home improvement contractors have in common? They both agree the man of the house is not the primary decision maker when it comes to managing home improvement projects, at least according to a new survey.

ServiceMagic (http://www.servicemagic.com) conducted a survey around the idea of who is really right in these he-said-she-said battles. In one of its monthly newsletters ServiceMagic asked 490 homeowners and 485 residential contractors who they believed was the primary decision maker for home improvement projects.

The survey found that only 8 percent of the female homeowners saw men as the primary decision maker, but 30 percent of the male homeowners noted themselves as the decision maker. On the other side of that issue, 25 percent of females cited women as the primary decision maker compared to 8 percent of men noting women as the one making the decisions. In addition, 65 percent of the homeowners who responded say they make home improvement decisions as a team with their significant other.

Enter the third person in any home improvement project … the contractor. When residential contractors responded to the same question, only 28 percent agreed that couples make decisions as a team. More than half (55 percent) of the contractors believe the female head of household is the primary decision maker, while only 17 percent cited men.

This is a very telling survey. There is a gap between perception and reality within the household, and contractors are often caught in the middle. More than 90 percent of all issues arise from a breakdown in communication, and it is usually due to the triangle which forms when a contractor enters a household and a relationship of two becomes a relationship of three. Many contractors communicate to one spouse or the other, assuming the couple talks with each other and agrees on projects.

Tom Teehan, who is a prescreened and customer-rated ServiceMagic member, relates that he "figured out a long time ago women ran the show in the household and the day I did, my business was better for it. I tell all my friends who are newer to the trade to try to communicate all important decisions to both spouses together at the same time whenever possible. Anything which impacts cost is a must. But when it is a design or functional decision, the old adage comes into play -- if mama ain't happy, nobody's happy."

Teehan really gets to the heart of the matter. While not all households are the same, it is important to note that conventional wisdom does not always ring true. Maybe it's that the old days are over, and maybe it's that everyone was wrong about the old days. Either way, women are taking charge of home improvement and contractors and spouses need to accommodate that.

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