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In-Home Vs Virtual Project Consultations: The Pros & Cons

Are you wondering whether to schedule an in-home or virtual consultation for your next home improvement project? Virtual consultations have risen in popularity since the start of the Covid pandemic, but with life back to pretty much normal, virtual consultations have stuck around. 

So, if you’re looking to upgrade your windows, remodel your kitchen, or install a new roof this year, you might be wondering which type of consultation you should choose. In-home consultations or virtual project consultations? Well, in-home consultations are great for getting a firsthand look at your space and getting a better understanding of your needs, but they can be time-consuming and costly. Virtual consultations, on the other hand, are convenient and cost-effective, but they may not provide the same level of detail.

In this article, I’ll be going over the pros and cons of in-home versus virtual project consultation so you can make the right decision for your needs for your next home improvement project. 


Pros of In-Person Consultations

In-person consultations used to be the go-to arrangement for new home improvement projects. Here are some of the pros of doing it in your home: 

  • Personalized assessment: Seeing your home in person gives contractors the ability to get a better understanding of your needs and helps to provide more accurate and personalized recommendations for your project. 
  • Building a relationship: In-home consultations let you meet with your potential contractor face-to-face,  which can help to build trust and establish a good working relationship.
  • Visualization: When a contractor comes to your home, they will likely bring some samples of the products which allows you to see it in the context of your own home, ultimately making it easier for you to make a decision as you can better envision the final project.  


Cons of In-Home Consultations

There are some downsides to conducting in-home home improvement consultations, however, including: 

  • Time-consuming: In-home consultations take up a lot more time for both you and the contractor, especially if you take into account small talk or going off on tangents etc (it happens!) 
  • Limited availability: In-home consultations require you to be at home for the consultation (of course), and this can limit you in terms of timing. If you have an in-office job, you’ll likely have to take time off work to be able to meet with the contractor during business hours. 
  • Cost: Some home improvement contractors will charge you for an in-home consultation, and it is likely to cost more than a virtual consultation. It’s worth noting that some contractors do offer free consultations both in-home and virtually, so make sure you ask before booking an appointment. 

Pros of Virtual Consultations

The rise of virtual consultations cannot be ignored, and there are certainly some great benefits to carrying out consultations virtually, such as: 

  • Convenience: Virtual consultations can be done at almost anytime that suits you, often after business hours as well, making it ideal for full-time workers.
  • Cost-effective: Virtual consultations don't require a contractor to travel to you, which often makes them cheaper (if not free) when compared to in-home consultations. 
  • Wide coverage area: Virtual consultations allow you to connect with a home improvement contractor from anywhere, regardless of location. Although, I always recommend to go with a contractor who is local to your area - Read more on that here)


Cons of Virtual Consultations

From technical issues to lack of human connection, here are some of the cons of a virtual home improvement consultation:

  • Limited personal interaction: Virtual consultations often don’t allow for the same connection you’ll get with your contractor in person.  
  • Difficulty in visualizing the finished project: Virtual consultations may not provide the same level of detail as an in-home consultation and it may be harder for you to visualize the finished project.
  • Technical issues: No one wants their consultation ruined by issues like a poor internet connection, right?!
  • Limited ability to see your home: It’s much more difficult for your contractor to get the full picture of your home/project space via virtual consultation.


What to Expect During an In-Home Consultation

Once you've done your homework and reached out to some contractors for consultations, here’s what an in-home consultation should look like.

Depending on the project, the conversation will look a bit different. For example, if you're thinking about updating your kitchen, you'll have different questions than if you're looking to replace your windows.

During the consultation, a good contractor will want to know what you're looking for, what you need, and what your budget looks like. If a contractor is more interested in telling you what to do than listening to you, they might not be the right fit. They should also fill you in on their company and how they plan to tackle the project. You'll want to know who'll be working on it, including any subcontractors. 

You should ask to see some of their previous work and get a sense of their availability and timeline for completing the project, as well as any references you can check out. Once the initial discussion is done, the contractor should take a tour of the space, measure, and check for any potential issues. 


What to Expect During a Virtual Consultation 

A virtual consultation is similar to an in-home consultation, just with a few digital tweaks. The contractor will send you a link to their preferred online video conferencing platform, which you can access from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

It's important to make sure the space you're planning to remodel is ready for the virtual walk-through. Clear the area, move any furniture that might be in the way, and make sure the space is well-lit. It's also a good idea to take some photos in advance and share them with the contractor via email. This will help them understand any subtleties that might get lost on the video call.

When doing the virtual walk-through, use the rear-facing camera on your tablet or smartphone so you can see the image on the screen. Point out any specific details or areas of concern and the contractor may ask for close-ups of key areas. Once the contractor has seen everything they need to make a recommendation, they'll likely share their screen to show you reference images for some of the ideas they have in mind. 


What Happens Next? 

After your in-home or virtual consultation, the contractor will give you an estimate, quote, or proposal. This will give you a rough idea of how much the project will cost in total.

It's important to keep in mind that the more specific you are about your project, the more detailed and accurate the estimate will be. If your plan isn’t concrete, your estimate won't be either. It's a good idea to get multiple estimates, so you can compare them and avoid any red flags (like estimates that are too low). Make sure to learn how to read them too, so you can be sure you're getting a fair price. 


In-Home Vs Virtual Consultation: Which Should You Choose? 

Whether you choose an in-person or virtual consultation really is a personal choice. Either way, I always recommend shopping around and speaking with a few different contractors to find the right fit for your needs. At WoW, we offer both in-person and virtual consultations. If you’re unsure which is right for you, get in touch with our friendly team today and we can walk you through the options. 

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Topics: Home Improvement, Home Improvement Contractor