I was hit with a new business idea today; maybe it is good, maybe it is bad. I have been thinking about a “side” business for some time.

Let me know.

Some background:

On Good Friday (April 2006), my county was hit with a massive hail storm. The majority of the hail damage was within the urban center of the major city. Many of my friends’ homes had damage, such as: roof damage, siding damage, window damage, and even HVAC damage (the condensing unit outdoors). There were also numerous cases of damage to automobiles. Tens-of-thousands of homes and autos were damaged by this event.
Praise the LORD, neither our home, nor either of our cars were damaged!

I met with two of my friends last night and they were discussing the headache it is to get quotes from multiple contractors and deal with the insurance company. The get a quote or quotes but they really don’t know what the cost should be. Are they getting ripped off? Just because all of the quotes are close, it does not make it a good price. And how do they know they are working with reputable companies? Some research the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List, but this is a big deal to go it alone.

This is where I come in, I think. I am an architect. I have a background with ten years of experience in not only the design and construction of buildings, but also in dealing with contractors: obtaining the quotes or bids, the contracts, the payments, observing their work, answering their questions, and keeping them honest. Believe me, there are MANY reputable contractors, but there are also many, uh, not-so-reputable. And when an event like a major hail storm occurs you can get “ambulance-chasers”: contractors from out-of-state that will be gone soon after the work dries up.

I think I could offer my services and experience as an architectural advocate: I would help people solicit bids/quotes, review and analyze them, discuss terms of payment, discuss schedule expectations, and finally review the quality of materials and workmanship. This would be an abbreviated service than typical architectural services; I wouldn’t be designing anything, just making sure the cogs of progress are lightly oiled so that the homeowners are satisfied with the completed work.

This could just not apply to hail damage and such, but to any small home renovation project where homeowners typically call a contractor directly. This typical scenario scares the bejeezes out of most folks. There are so much scam artists out there that most people are gun-shy; they don’t know who to trust.

Of course my services would come at a price, because it would add value to the consumer: their peace of mind. I would be an expert advocate on their behalf in this contractual relationship with a contractor. I have no idea how to charge for the service: flat fee or percentage of construction work?

All of this hit me while commuting to work this morning; maybe it is a pipe dream, but maybe it could work…