Choosing the right contractor for your next remodeling project is a lot like choosing a mate – it’s not just about what they look like on the outside, the inside counts too! 😉
Do you mesh best with an introvert with a dry wit who loves to hike, eat sushi and go to bed early? Or is an outgoing, spontaneous extrovert who loves to tell a good story and stay out late a better fit?
While those things might not matter for your home renovation, the thought you put into who you choose does, and being able to hone in on what type of partner you want for your home renovation is critical to creating a match made in heaven.
First, let’s look at your options:
- Small General Contracting Company
- Large General Contracting Company
- Design-Build Firm
- Architect-Bid Approach
Your budget and the amount of involvement (and risk you’re willing to take on) will likely determine which option you choose. For example, if you’ve got a great design eye, love spending time looking for the best deal, and want to be heavily involved in the project management side of your renovation, a design/build firm may not be a good fit for you – you’re just not going to need that much hand-holding.
On the other hand, if you don’t have the time (or the desire) to manage the details yourself and could use a helping hand in terms of design direction, you won’t get the full service you need by going to a handyman or small general contractor. A design-build firm would be your best fit, assuming your budget is in line with the cost.
For larger projects, you could always hire an Architect and bid out the plans, but more often than not, you’ll end up with pricing that is way over what you anticipated and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board (literally)!
Since each approach has its own merits, it’s important to be clear on your budget, the size and scope of what you want done, as well as your timeline expectations in advance of meeting with potential contractors. Once you’ve got those parameters in-hand, it’ll be much easier to know what type of contractor will be the best fit for YOUR needs.
Meet & Greet…and Ask!
Remember…quality over quantity works best! So don’t worry about the old adage of meeting with at least 3 contractors. If you find two quality, well vetted referrals, meet with one and fall in love, that’s fine! On the flip side, you may have to kiss a few frogs to find the one for you…the key here is to trust your gut and go with the best fit for your project. Just like in dating, even if your best friend recommends someone, it doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be a good fit for you.
Before your first meeting, make a list of questions to ask your contractor candidates ahead of time to ensure you get a sense of how they work and if their approach will be a good fit for you. Questions like:
- What’s your typical size / scope project?
- How long have you been in business?
- What class license do you hold?
- How many projects do you have going on at one time?
- How long does a project like mine normally take?
- What percentage of your projects end on time and stay on budget?
- Are your carpenters employees or do you subcontract everything?
- Who will be helping me with design choices?
- What does your ideal client look like?
Communication is the Key to Every Good Partnership
The clearer you are on what you want and what you’re looking for, the more likely the contractor will be able to provide you a detailed and accurate estimate. Know your budget and provide a detailed list of what you’d like to have done in your renovation (sometimes called a “Project Scope”). Here’s an example:
Kitchen Gut and Reno:
- countertops and cabinets
- tile floor
- sink and faucet
- Install all new appliances: fridge, range, hood, dishwasher, drawer microwave
- 3 pendants over island (wiring needed)
- Install new lighting (already wired) over sink and kitchen table
- Under counter lighting on a switch
Although you certainly want a level of professionalism in the meeting, this is also a good time to get a sense of their personality – if you choose them, they could be in your life for a while, so make sure you like them. …okay, maybe not to the degree that you would choose a life partner, but close! 😉
No matter what type of contractor you choose, I can tell you from my experience, good communication BOTH ways is THE key to a successful renovation!
If you’re about to remodel and like these tips, I have a lot more to share! Check out my Renovation Roadmap eCourse where I provide lots of tools and guidance on how to successfully manage your next home renovation.