We’re all sensitive when it comes to something as important as your home. And everyone finds it hard sometimes to relinquish control to even the most reputable of experts.

But by and large, home improvement professionals have your back when it comes to getting you where you want to go with your home. So we wanted to reveal some insiders’ perspective on how the experts approach their services, and what that means for you.

A common thread in all the responses, no matter which part of the industry, was that homeowners should try as best as they can to be impartial and informed when it comes to their decisions.


“If I could whisper in the ear of every buyer and seller prior to a real estate transaction I would tell them to try to keep the emotion out of their decisions, to take an attitude of compromise and expect to get a little less than you had hoped. The other guy will feel he paid a little more than he hoped too, and, this would describe an ideal negotiation.”
-Dawn Ohnstad, Coldwell Banker Burnett

1. Communicate with honesty. For some reason we are scared to tell professionals the whole truth and, more than likely, it comes back later on in the process to delay or cancel the closing process.

2. Trust your instinct. You’ve all heard the one that goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.”

3. “Love the Math. Don’t glance at the numbers or assume any costs without explanation. Real estate is the single largest investment one will make in lifetime.”

-Peter L. Mosca

Green Consultants

“Unfortunately, homeowners are confused as to what we do and often think of us as simple Google resources or want us to do more than simply advise and consult as this is very “new” to the average home owner. Residential Green Consultants have very specialized and yet vastly diverse resources, knowledges and skills that could benefit anyone in the trades and we are often overlooked despite it.”

-Tanya Stock, Vida Verde

Interior Designers

“My best insider tip would be to allow your designer to work with remodeling contractors with whom they have history or experience. Too often we are asked to work with contractors who submitted a lower price, or are the friend of a friend, or a family member of the customer, and while the homeowner may save a buck in contracting fees by going with one of these alternate labor sources, they will likely exceed their savings in the additional design fees incurred due to the lack of rapport between the designer and the contractors.”

-Jason Crook, PHAG Interiors

“Because so much design work occurs out of the clients’ view, it is easy for them to think that it’s all right to take the plan we create and shop it around. What we’d like them to understand is that we are selling a service, not a bunch of products. We can never be as cheap as mass-market imports, but we are selling quality and longevity, not a throw-away look.

Sometimes our clients are surprised that we charge by the hour for furniture plans and drapery prices, since they don’t want “interior design”. However, good clients do understand – the time we spend working on their home has tremendous value for them in the end. If we produced a design plan and the client purchased elsewhere, they’d be using our services without paying for them. An interior designer provides quality furniture and tries to get the most for the client’s budget, then follows up with personal delivery and installation services.

If more shoppers understood what an interior design shop can provide in terms of quality and follow up, they would think twice about spending hours shopping around just to save a few hundred dollars.”

-Kerry Ann Dame, Posh Surfside


“I think one thing we’ve come across when it comes to flooring is the confusion between laminate, solid wood, and engineered. Although, I think this has receded a bit as customers are beginning to educate themselves, there is still somewhat of a learning curve when it comes to this. Knowing the difference is pretty vital, not only because of things like budget, but also about where installations are going to be the most practical.

Laminate flooring, for instance, can be floated. So can engineered hardwood. But, largely and with a few very recent exceptions, solid hardwood has to be nailed down, and it’s something of an intense process that requires some experience to do it well. Also, laminate flooring is not really a ‘wood’ floor in the same way a solid or engineered floor is. Laminate is imaged to look like real wood. But, unless you count sawdust in its core layer, it’s not really a natural product.”

-Rob Jones, Build Direct

Lighting Experts

“Well-designed lighting can create a soft, cozy atmosphere. It can energize a dull kitchen. It can call attention to details in a work of art, provide effective task lighting for an office, and more.

The rule of thumb is to use layers of light throughout a home. This is an incredibly simple concept that lighting designers live by but that most homeowners are unfamiliar with. Creating layers of light involves ensuring each room in your house includes each of the three types of lighting:

1. General Lighting: Any light source that provides overall illumination in a space without serving any focused purpose.

2. Task Lighting: Any lighting that you specifically install to light an area where a task is performed. For example, under cabinet lighting in a kitchen, or flexible reading lights in a living room.

3. Accent Lighting: The purpose of accent lighting is to create visual interest – it’s the layer that will highlight your paintings, houseplants, wall textures, or displays.”

-Emily Wilde, Pegasus Lighting


“Investing in properties to flip or to hold for the long-haul typically
 involves construction repairs, modifications or a total makeover. No 
matter the scope, the goal of any alteration is to enhance the property 
and maintain the value of the investment. Before you purchase a
 property, be sure to factor the cost of any proposed work into the 
asking price.”

-John A. Salat

This information was compiled from the answers provided by eLocal’s Blog-Off Experts. To see the original research, click here.