There are certain things that put a custom remodeler at the top of the “most wanted” list by clients. The attributes of quality remodelers are what make clients call them back for every remodeling project and recommend them to all their friends. These qualities are not rocket science. In fact, they are common sense, but most remodelers either don’t take the time to implement them or don’t think they’re all necessary. Here are 10 things to look for if you want to hire a quality custom remodeler:
Experience – A quality remodeler has earned the status of his reputation through experience. He has proven his claim by going above and beyond the call of duty on every single job. He has learned what works and what doesn’t work. He’s not going to make mistakes on your custom renovation because he’s already made them someplace else and learned from them. His experience can save you precious time and money. In addition, his cost estimates will be both more realistic and more accurate because he knows how long jobs will take and how to do them right the first time.
Local Experience – In addition to years of experience, consider locality. Builders who build in the same towns and areas know the permitting process, the inspection process and the zoning ordinances. They are familiar with the traffic patterns, the utility companies and the local authorities. All of this knowledge can save you time and money.
Good Listener – If a remodeler comes to bid on your job, be sure he listens to you. That means not just hearing that you want to remodel your kitchen, for example. He should ask questions about your ideas and your expectations. He should be trying to gain an understanding not only about the physical space, but also how that space will be used. You want him to come back with a plan that fits your lifestyle. In the remodeled kitchen example, if you love to entertain friends by inviting them to cook with you on a regular basis or you are a gourmet cook, the builder may recommend a more open space with emphasis on countertops and free-flowing designs. If you told him you eat out three out of seven nights a week, he may recommend a smaller area for cooking and a larger area for socializing. In short, his approach should reflect that he heard your needs and that he can provide some added value to the project.
Respect – A quality remodeler works with respect for everyone and everything he encounters. Beginning with the initial phone call or conversation, your relationship with your custom remodeler should be based on respect. You should get a call-back in a timely manner because he respects your time. You should get straight answers to your questions and never feel intimidated or like you’ve asked a “stupid question” because he respects your intelligence. He and his crew will always be careful on your property by cleaning up after the job, covering surfaces that require protection from dust, and taking pride in their work because they respect your property. A quality remodeler makes you feel as if you are the most important client in his portfolio.
Organized – You can tell how organized a builder is by the way phone calls are handled to set up that first meeting or consultation. Whether your call is answered by a person or a voice mail, the encounter should always be a friendly, pleasant one. Expect a prompt return of the call, unless the message informs you otherwise. If the builder makes it past the initial phone call, you can judge his level of organization by the way he responds to your questions about the project timeline. Does he have a calendar? Does he provide a work flow chart or a schedule? Does he use computer programs to generate his staffing and working time? How does he handle updates? Ask about his process for monitoring the job and reporting back to you.
Planning – You want your builder to have a plan. More than just a blueprint of the intended remodeling effort, a plan should reflect all important dates in the process. It should be clear when you need to submit your choices for fixtures and cabinetry and when you can expect the builder and his team to be on site. The completion date should be clear and the plan should include those update meetings discussed above.
Open Communication – You should feel comfortable talking to your builder and feel that the lines of communication are open not only for positive feedback, but also for constructive feedback. Don’t let anything fester. If you have a concern, voice it immediately. In the long run, it will cost everyone less time and money. Also, establish a communications method with your builder. Chooses a mode that is most convenient for both of you. If he’s in the field all day, texting may be the best communication solution. However, if he considers a text for emergencies only, then e-mail may be the better solution. The method you choose will ultimately reflect the kinds and timing of answers you’ll receive.
Attention to Detail – Be sure the custom remodeler you choose has a penchant for detail on the job. Ask for references so that you can both talk to his clients and see his work. Attention to detail means that he doesn’t cut corners. He smooths out the rough surfaces, he makes the edges straight, he makes sure everything is done right the first time. If it’s not, he pays attention to the “punch list” immediately, not six months down the road.
Licensed and Insured – Don’t be afraid to ask the contractors you’re considering about licensing and insurance. Class A licensed remodelers have the most requirements and those who meet or exceed these requirements are usually among the highest quality remodelers. Quality remodelers also carry the appropriate insurance with umbrella policies – not because they need to use the insurance often, but because they are smart business people.
Warranty on Work – A one-year warranty on work is a must. If the builder doesn’t believe his work will last a year, then why should you? While no one can completely guarantee life-long, mistake-free work, a one-year warranty protects your investment and holds the builder to the highest standards.
Find a contractor with all of these attributes, plus glowing recommendations from clients, and you’ve got yourself a high-quality remodeler you can count on to complete your project over and above your highest expectations.