Meet Dan Fritschen, President at Planese, Inc. – Acclaimed Homeowner Advocate, Remodeling & Home Book Author and Requested Popular Speaker
SVT: You are a “homeowner advocate” – What does that mean, what is its significance and why is it needed?
DF: Remodeling and home improvement have below average customer satisfaction levels when compared to 11 benchmark industries that are most important to homeowners. This low customer satisfaction comes from homeowners not having the knowledge and experience to make wise decisions needed to have a successful remodeling or home improvement project. As a homeowner advocate, I work to educate homeowners so they can remodel and make cost effective home improvement decisions with confidence.
SVT: How long have you been a “homeowner advocate” and what are your qualifications?
DF: Prior to 2005, I was a homeowner and real estate investor who had undertaken many remodeling projects. Then I published my first book Remodel or Move? Make the Right Decision in 2005 to offer a comprehensive guide for homeowners to educate themselves and to get the information and tools they need to make better home “remodel or move?” decisions. Since then, I have researched and published 5 additional books, created the websites www.remodelormove.com and www.planese.com, spoken at many home and garden shows and written many articles on how homeowners can get more satisfaction and a higher return from their remodeling and home improvement investments. Since 2005, I have advised and helped millions of homeowners on how to wisely embark on their remodeling projects.
SVT: When it comes to home improvements, are homeowners in a better position as consumers today than 10 years ago?
DF: In many ways, the answer is “NO” – homeowners as consumers are not better able to make wise decisions than 10 years ago. The Internet and mobile technology have made elements of the remodeling and home improvement process easier, such as searching for design ideas and looking up reviews and background checks on contractors before hiring them. However, there has been little change to how homeowners start, manage and complete remodeling and home improvement projects and that is why their customer satisfaction and return on investment levels are still low on average.
SVT: How do today’s record home prices help or hurt homeowners in Silicon Valley?
DF: The high prices of homes and the influences of Proposition 13 make remodeling much more attractive in Silicon Valley compared to other regions. A remodel project that doesn’t make sense from a financial point of view in other parts of the country can easily be justified when compared to moving from a $1 million to a $1.4 million home. Such a move can also mean increasing property taxes paid each year by many thousands of dollars simply to gain another bedroom and bathroom.
SVT: What have you heard from others and what do you believe to be some of the best deals homeowners can make for their homes?
DF: From an investment standpoint, adding square footage to homes in Silicon Valley can often offer a big return on investment and an improvement in quality of life. Solar electric and water heating and using grey water for landscape irrigation are also attractive in Silicon Valley with the ample sunshine and limited rain. Reuse websites like www.freecycle.org and other alternative material sources are great ways to save money on costly materials for remodeling and home improvement projects.
SVT: Are there some things, perhaps basic rules, I should consider first before possibly remodeling?
DF: The most important decision many homeowners will make is who to choose and hire as a general contractor. Spend lots of time identifying and understanding your needs and desires and talk with several potential contractors to learn their capabilities and business practices. If possible, contact and visit their prior clients, and then carefully decide which contractor is the best fit for your project requirements and budget.
Dan is a homeowner advocate whose mission is to educate homeowners so they can remodel their homes with confidence! He is a Sunnyvale based columnist for US Today Home Magazine, author of 6 books on home remodeling, creator of the website www.remodelormove.com, founding board member of the Home Industry Leadership Board, designer of the award-winning remodelormove design idea app and professional Home Show speaker.
Dan studied Mechanical Engineering and then moved to Sunnyvale to begin his career in Semi-conductor capital equipment. After seeing how frustrated homeowners can get when planning a remodel he embarked on a crusade to educate homeowners so they get better results from their remodeling investments. Dan started Planese Inc. in 2013 to use technology to make collaboration easier between homeowner and contractor and ensure better results from remodeling projects.