Remodeling your home is a big job. It’s one that requires a significant commitment from the homeowner, along with a great deal of trust in the design/build contractor. If you’re going to invest your hard-earned money into a whole-house renovation, you’ll want to make sure you hire the right custom remodeler. He should have experienced craftsmen who can bring to life your vision for your home. Or, if you need a little assistance with the vision, he and his crew should be able to help you with full design ideas and suggestions. Regardless of where the ideas come from, you’ll be consistently thankful throughout the life of the project that you took the time up front to carefully choose your builder. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:
- Do your research: Before you begin your project, ask around for recommendations. Family, friends and co-workers can be a good place to start, since you can trust them to provide you with reliable information and honest feedback. Online sites such as Angie’s List and neighbourhood websites are another great source for highly skilled contractors. Once you have a few names,it’s time to get the ball rolling. As you make your introductory phone calls and conduct your initial research online, there are a few key factors to keep in mind. Does your contractor have a good team of in-house tradesmen and subcontractors? Ensure that the person you choose has a history and is available and willing to take on and effectively execute a project of your size. Scope out builders who have been around for at least five to 10 years — the longer the better. This way, you can feel confident that your builder has a record of sticking around after completing a project. Finally, verify with local and state consumer and licensing agencies that there are no outstanding complaints that have been filed against your custom remodeler of choice.If complaints were filed, were they corrected in a timely and professional manner to the home owner’s satisfaction?
- Meet face-to-face with your builder: Once you have honed in on a few remodeling and renovation companies based on your primary research, schedule a time to meet with each contractor in person. Have a list of questions ready so that you will be prepared for a thorough and informative session. In addition, have a clear outline of the work you want done so the contractors can exchange information and ideas with you. As you talk to each contractor, note whether he/she communicates well, answering your questions clearly and patiently. Observe the attentiveness of your remodeler, and determine whether or not he/she will be readily available when you call, text or email. Does he/she listen attentively to your thoughts and concerns and comprehend the details of your vision? A good custom remodeler will make the effort to understand what you want, what your budge is and at a future point provide you with an estimate for creating your dream home. Also, a reliable builder will be upfront in letting you know when something will not work, and he should be able to present you with an alternate plan. Communication is key, so notice how the contractor expresses good news, bad news and even news that fits somewhere in between.
- Vet contractors through references and work history: Once you have narrowed down your contractor selection, delve into the prior work of your remodeler by interviewing previous clients. View the builder’s work on websites such as Houzz.com. Upon request, your builder should be able to furnish you with a list of references. Call each one and have a specific list of questions to ask. Check to see that clients were happy with the outcome and if there were any issues that arose that made them unhappy during the remodeling process.How were any ruffles in the work dealt with by the contractor? Ask them if they would hire the contractor again. If so, this is positive reinforcement that you are heading in the right direction. If possible, visit a previous or even a current job site to gauge the builder’s respect for the owner’s home and the level of workmanship.
- Look for red flags: When searching for contractors, there are certain factors that can indicate potential trouble. For example, if the remodeler asks for a large deposit up front, think twice. On the same note, a rock-bottom price could also be a red flag. A low bidder may be more likely to cut corners or is in desperate need of work. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for! Other warning signs could be showing up late to an appointment, not keeping time commitments, the inability to show proof of insurance, unresolved claims, a murky work history and/or a lack of references. A suggestion that the work be completed without obtaining the proper permits or that the permit be issued in the client’s name is a cause for major concern. Remember—the person that pulls the permit is responsible for the work – that person should be the builder.
- Formulate the contract: It is essential to obtain a contract from your builder that contains the scope of work, design drawings and specifications that detail every step of the project. Some crucial elements of the contract include payment schedule, proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation provisions, a start date and a projected end date, and the specifics of materials and products to be used.
In short, a good custom remodeler knows the entire gamut of construction and general contracting, including building codes and safety standards. He/she will have a solid, reliable and expert team of carpenters, plumbers, electricians and designers who will work as a team to ultimately produce what works for you