Remodeling your home sweet home
Starting a home remodeling project is exhilarating! Picking the project, paint and perhaps even plumbing can put a little spring in your step, especially when you know you have a new kitchen to look forward to or a finished basement on the horizon.
For most folks, the home they own and live in is their largest and most important investment, so big remodeling projects typically require the guidance of a reliable contractor. Choosing the right person for the job can make the difference between a successful home renovation and a complete disaster. By taking the time to research before the work begins, your chances of having a great “home sweet home” story are much greater.
Licenses and certifications
Having the proper licenses doesn’t guarantee great work, but it does demonstrate professionalism, adherence to local laws and codes and suggests commitment on the part of the contractor. Look for contractors with certifications or memberships with recognized industry groups such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, or the NAHB Remodeling Council. These affiliations are a good sign that the business is legitimate and dedicated to success.
Do you gel?
Even if you found a remodeler whom your best friend’s sister’s cousin totally loves, you may not get the same good vibes. Many times, your gut can be the final decision maker when it comes to choosing someone who will be making important changes to your home. Remember that this person and other affiliated employees will be going in and out of your home almost daily. Choose someone you have researched, but also someone you feel comfortable with around your family and household.
Timing is everything
You and your family may be ready to start your home remodeling project now, but the contractor you are considering won’t be ready to start for another six weeks. Timing is crucial when it comes to choosing a contractor. If you are trying to finish your guest bathroom for a summertime visit from your in-laws, then you need to let your contractor know your timeline. Also, just like other businesses, contractors have busy seasons, so there are times when they must turn away work and times of the year when they can’t find enough. Aim to schedule your project for the less busy times.
The best way to investigate a possible contractor is to see what work they have done in the past. Ask questions of previous customers. What was the quality of the work? Would you hire this contractor again? Was the contractor easy to work with? Did they show up on time? In some cases, it may be easier or more thorough to go to the customer’s home to take a look at the completed job.
The bid process
Estimates are very important when it comes to remodeling. A written estimate should feature the work to be completed, what materials will be used, the labor that will be required, the length of time the project will take and any other costs. . Obtaining multiple estimates is a good idea, and getting at least three estimates from three reliable contractors is best. An estimate may evolve into a bid, which may increase your chances of getting a better price. Once you agree to a bid and you and your contractor sign it, the bid becomes a contract.
Of course, you shouldn’t choose a contractor based on the cheapest bid. Variables are abundant when it comes to remodeling, such as type and quality of materials, the quality of workmanship and the amount of time needed to complete the job. Be wary of bids lacking details. For instance, one bid may not include the necessary materials and parts needed to replace outdated plumbing in an older home. Make sure the bid is thorough and ask questions up front.
Not all contractors are created equal, but there are some tell-tale signs of someone you don’t want to do business with. Here are some of the most recognizable.
• Door-to-door sales pitches are typically not a good sign. Just because a company is doing work down the street (which may or may not be true) doesn’t mean they are passing on great service and pricing to you. Stick to people who come with good referrals.
• Nix contractors who can’t provide license or insurance information as well as those who aren’t members of recognized trade associations.
• High-pressure sales people tend to be just that–high pressure and not enough substance. Choose someone who is assertive but listens to your needs and wants.
• Deep discounts usually mean lower quality workmanship, materials or both.
The best recommendation for choosing a contractor might very well be to go with your gut. You’re not just hiring a professional; you’re inviting a person (and their team) into your home to complete a project from start to finish. The top home remodelers make you feel glad you chose them in the end. HLM
Sources: consumerreports.org, hgtv.com and nahb.org.