One of the most important tasks of any project for your home is choosing the right contractor to help make your dream a reality. The right contractor will collaborate, guide, and educate you during the project.
The best way to begin the process of choosing a contractor is to thoroughly plan what you want done, the scope of work, and be able to communicate that plan with potential candidates. Do you want a room painted or a total kitchen upgrade? If there are multiple remodel projects that you want completed, start with a smaller project to choose a contractor. A “trial job” is a great way to investigate whether you work well with a contractor. If the job is completed to your standards, you have found a professional for larger projects in the future. If the experience was not what you thought it should be, do not let that discourage you from searching again. Not all contractors are created equal.
The budget for your project should also be considered as you begin deciding on the scope of work. You need an idea of what you want to spend before you can start to plan what you can accomplish. Remember that the amount you spend directly relates to the quality of the finished product you receive.
The next part of the planning phase is designing and possibly drawing the project. This is where you start deciding on specifics of the job. What do you want the finished product to look like? Now is the time to choose colors, finishes, appliances, fixtures, etc. You may want to enlist the help of a designer or decorator during the planning phase. These professionals can help find products for your desired style. You also want to use an architect if you are structurally changing a part of your home. The more specific you are about your ideas for your finished project during this early phase, the easier it is for a contractor to successfully complete the project as cost efficiently as possible.
A contractor can be an asset during the planning process. You can hire a contractor for a few hours of help without committing to the entire project; this will also give you an opportunity to see how well you work with this person. It is also helpful to have an idea of the cost for some of the work that is not dependent on the finishes selected (framing, drywall, painting, etc.).
Plan for what you want but be prepared to decide what would be acceptable to stick to the budget. You might want a heated tile floor in a bathroom remodel, but is the additional cost of a heated floor necessary? Investigate some options so you can choose to continue with a project or give yourself some time to save for your dream project with exactly what you want.
Searching for a Professional
Once you have a plan, it is time to search for a contractor to do the job. Recommendations from your designer, decorator, or architect are extremely helpful because they can guide you to a contractor that is best suited to you and your project. Friends and family can also be a great source of knowledge, whether they’ve had positive or negative experiences, because knowing who not to use is helpful as well.
Start by having brief phone interviews. The contractor should be easy to communicate with and knowledgeable. Ask for references and follow-up with them. Inspecting a job that a contractor has done previously is also a great way to choose the professional that is right for you. Don’t forget, higher quality usually comes with a higher price.
Questions to Ask
● References from their last 2-3 jobs that were similar to your project
● What type and size of projects do they usually do?
● Are they insured?
● Will there be employees and additional sub-contractors working on your project?
● What is important to you: the cleanliness of the site, sticking to the budget, regular communication? Write down a list with everything that is important to you and ask about these before hiring.
Once you have decided on two or three candidates, ask them for a proposal or bid. Now is when you will see the benefit of the time spent planning the scope of your project. Once you have compared the proposals, you can choose a contractor for your project.
Before you proceed with a contractor be sure that you have a signed contract. Make sure you get the job done that you want by having everything in writing. Most problems between client and contractor stems from not having a thoroughly detailed planned project with the agreed upon details in writing.
Spending the time thoroughly planning your project and researching your contractor can help make the remodel of your home a wonderful experience and create a final product that you enjoy every day.