Choosing the Right Remodeling Contractor:
Without a question, the most important decision you will make when planning a remodeling project is which company to hire. Most everyone has experienced or heard of remodeling nightmares. Believe it or not, these horror stories do not always come about because of “bad” contractors. Although genuinely unscrupulous outfits do exist, problems often arise because a particular company is simply not the right fit for a project. And once you, the homeowner, begin to lose confidence in your contractor, there is often little that can be done to right the relationship. The situation will likely get progressively worse.
Whether your project is a full home remodel or a simple pull and replace kitchen renovation, you are giving a relatively unknown third party free reign in your home. You will be paying them a substantial sum of money to deliver a product (largely unsupervised), where the most important components will be hidden. Remodeling is not like cutting the grass where you “get what you see”. Rather, the infrastructure and systems that support your home (plumbing, electrical wiring, framing, HCAV, etc.) are usually covered by finishes. In addition to being the most important part of your renovation, reworking these systems is typically the most costly part of the project. Therefore, it is essential that you trust your remolding partner implicitly. You must be confident that the production crew will not cut corners while you are away. Additionally, they must maintain a safe jobsite, and keep your home clean and secure.
Since vetting and hiring the right company can be the difference between creating your dream space or the start of a prolonged nightmare, it is always wise to thoroughly interview at least three companies before settling on one to complete your remodeling project.
Whether you decide to partner with Four Brothers or another remodeling company, below are some important things to consider:
- Beware of the lowest bidder. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. As in anything else in life, you usually get what you pay for. A strategy that many companies use to secure a contract is to low-ball an estimate. Once construction begins, they then assess premeditated change orders to make up for their initial low bid.
- Beware of a company that minimizes the importance of design. Regardless of the size of the project, there is always a design component involved. If the design is not finalized and materials selected and ordered before construction begins, you can expect delays and work stoppages.
- Beware of a contractor that says they can start your project tomorrow. Typically, if a remodeler is slow, it is for a reason.
- Beware of “Yes Men”. A popular saying in customer service is “the customer is always right”. While this adage captures the spirit of good customer service, the literal wording is not always true. You need someone who is willing to tell you the truth, even if it is not what you were hoping to hear.
- Beware of salesmen that push their own agenda or design ideas. While designers and architects are expected to provide suggestions, your remodeling partner should be receptive to your input.
- Use a company with a strong pre-construction/planning component to their services – even if little or no design is involved. A well run construction project takes many hours to plan – if pre-construction services is not being offered as an integral part of the service, chances are it is not happening.
- Check various online and print forums for reviews. If multiple negative reviews exist, chances are that there is a good reason for it.
Other more specific questions you should ask during the interview process include:
- How much of your business is repeat or referral based?
- Can you give me some specific examples of projects like mine that you have completed recently?
- Are you licensed, bonded and insured in my district and/or state?
- Do you have a fixed-price contract, and what is your policy on change orders?
- Will you pull the necessary permits?
- What work scopes do you sub-contract out, and what is your relationship like with your trade-partners?
- Who will be in charge of completing the actual work once the renovation begins?
- What is your timeframe for completing the project, and will you work every day once the project begins?
- Are you lead certified by the EPA?
- What specific measures will you take to ensure that my home stays clean and safe?
Just as it is important to you to find a remodeling firm that will be a good match for your renovation, it is important for us to take on projects that are a good fit for us (and we’ll be the first to tell you that not all projects are)!