What Exactly is a “Free Consultation” Anyway?

Let’s start by talking about what a consultation is not.  It’s not an estimate.  It’s not a commitment.  It’s a conversation.  It’s an exchange of ideas.  A consultation is a way for you to determine if your remodeling goals are realistic, and a way for you and the builder/remodeler to get to know one another before any decisions are made.

If you’re planning to remodel, it makes sense to talk to a few builders first.  You want to make sure your plans are allowable within the zoning ordinances and that they fit into your budget.  A free consultation is like a “sniff test.”  It’s a way to set expectations and to ensure your ideas are both executable and affordable.  A good custom builder or remodeler will be honest with you about the feasibility of your ideas and the price range.  He may give you some additional thoughts and even some ballpark costs.  Form follows function in the consulting stage.  The builder should be trying to find out why you want to spend this money.  What are your reasons for doing this particular kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel?  If he understands your reasons, he is better able to provide recommendations.

At the conclusion of the consultation, you’ll have a better idea of what your next steps should be and whether or not you want to work with that particular builder.  Sometimes a builder will put you in touch with a designer or architect to hammer out the particulars.  Sometimes he’ll be ready to come back with an estimate.  Next week, we’ll talk about what to look for in the estimate.