Finding a good remodel contractor for your next home improvement project is important. It can make the difference between a job completed correctly and a major headache and financial burden in the future. For the majority of homeowners, the most difficult part isn’t the work itself. Instead, it is finding a reliable and competent contractor to complete the job. Knocking down walls, installing kitchen cabinets or retiling the bathroom are simple tasks when compared to the struggle of hiring a quality contractor who can perform a high-quality job from beginning to end.
Everyone has heard terrible stories about awful contractors who tore the kitchen apart and never returned to finish the job or a project that came in three times over the budget. Even with a quality contractor, remodeling can be highly stressful, expensive and involve negative surprises that must be fixed for the remodeling to complete.
Challenges of Doing a Remodel
In addition to those mentioned above, there are many challenges of doing a remodel that can create financial burden and major stress for you and your family. These include:
Making Too Many Changes
Homeowners are typically accountable with regards to making changes after construction has commenced. This includes changing materials, design or appliances that can lead to long lead times, increased labor costs and other costs. It is best to brainstorm all wish list items prior to the beginning of the project to ensure it completes on time at the cost you negotiated.
Miscommunications occur at every level, between husband and wife, manufacturer and delivery service, homeowner and professional, and are the source of the greatest stress during remodeling. In many instances, homeowners do not know what questions to ask upfront resulting in a steep and costly learning curve throughout the process. Prior to starting a project, it is helpful to discuss with friends and family who have endured the procedure in the past. They could have excellent advice on the questions to ask and best contractors to hire.
Not Fully Understanding the Cost
Misunderstanding the amount of money a project will cost is one of the most frustrating aspects of remodeling. Experienced professionals should follow the homeowner’s budget and recommend against expensive materials or additional labor. Homeowners are responsible for asking about transparency and any changes that may occur to the costs, delays, transportation, equipment rentals or any other line items. One way to do this is through a weekly budget check-in meeting to learn of any changes or delays.
Not Knowing the Project Timeline
Similar to a budget, experienced professionals should provide a timeline for project completion. Frustration builds and stress occurs when homeowners are not alerted to delays or when the contractor does not indicate the amount of extra time that could be added to the project. This can be mitigated by ordering local materials or those with short production lead times.
Not Knowing Where to Begin
When considering a major remodeling project, many homeowners feel stress in not knowing how to begin. They feel paralyzed over the questions to ask or the process to follow. Starting a new project can be overwhelming when you have done it before. There are plenty of resources available on the Internet to learn the entire contractor process.
10 Tips for Hiring a Remodel Contractor
Despite all of these challenges, there are many tips that can help you find the right contractor to minimize stress and hassle when remodeling your home. Here are our top 10.
Talk to clients and subcontractors who have worked with this contractor in the past. Talking to current clients will give you the best information as they have the most recent experience when working with this remodeling contractor. The subcontractor can confirm if the contractor pays on time.
Find out via phone call or on their website whether they hold all of the required local and state licenses as a contractor including designations from professional associations. Find a contractor who has invested their time and money into coursework and passed tests to earn specific certifications.
Determine the Contractor’s Specialty
Many homeowners assume that all contractors are equally qualified for different types of jobs. During the interview process, it is important to determine the contractor’s specialty. You do not want the bathroom contractor to be remodeling your kitchen.
Don’t Part with your Money Too Soon
If you have found a good contractor, they will not be able to start the job for several weeks. Therefore, do not part with a major portion of your renovation money immediately. Do not put down more than 10-percent which should not exceed $1,000.
If you have a short list of acceptable contractors, ask for a complete set of blueprints and bids from each of those professionals. To compare, break down the cost of materials, profit margins, labor and other expenses. Materials should account for 40-percent of the cost with the remaining covering profit margin and overhead.
Proper contractor insurance is critical in case there is an issue while the job is being performed. First, confirm that your contractor has insurance should an incident occur. Second, learned about what is covered by your homeowners insurance and by the contractor’s business insurance. Third, request a copy of the contractor’s insurance policy.
When you have narrowed down top contractors, select three and conduct an interview. During the interview, ask a lot of question and receive a written bid from each company. Questions should be about referrals, costs, previous jobs, insurance, accredited certifications, and other important aspects of the project.
Monitor Business Experience
It is important to know if the remodeler maintains a permanent mailing address, has an established presence in the community, possess a trustworthy reputation with their customers and subcontractors and has a track record of success. Also, you should determine if the remodeler has any professional designations like Certified Bath Designer (CBD) or Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR). Each of these experiences can help confirm validity.
Throughout the entire process of selecting a contractor, slow down. This is a major project that requires many important decisions to be made. Prior to beginning, educate yourself on the project so you can make smart decisions later.
Worth-of-mouth referrals are the best option for finding qualified professionals to manage your remodeling project. Ask your neighbors, friends and family for those remodelers in which they have had a positive experience. Ask what made it such a great experience and how the contractor reacted to problems.