Identifying a good remodeling contractor can be a challenging and even intimidating task for many homeowners. They don’t know whom to call or what to ask. But, proper contractor vetting, and ultimately finding the right fit, is arguably the most critical step in remodeling. You will be working with and relying upon this contractor for several months. After all, you’ll be entrusting the contractor with perhaps your most valuable, personal asset – the family home. Just like a marriage, you must put forth the effort to get it right because mistakes can be costly and painful.
Take Your Time and Be Diligent
The remodeling industry is very localized and highly fragmented. Many companies of all sizes, capabilities, and performance track records exist. You should evaluate at least a few different options and research each one thoroughly. Here’s an important recommendation that applies throughout the remodeling process – TAKE YOUR TIME! Mistakes often occur when homeowners, contractors, or craftsmen get in a hurry. Remodeling should, in fact, be based on thoughtful design and high-quality execution, not a race to finish. Choosing a contractor requires a similar approach.
Start by asking people you trust if they can recommend a contractor who actually worked on their home. If so, ask to see the completed work in person and learn about the entire process. If you don’t have the benefit of a contractor referral, compile a list of well-reviewed companies. Common consumer review resources include the BBB, Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, Next Door, and Houzz. Prior to contacting these companies, prepare relevant “interview” questions that will distinguish the most reliable contractors.
Good Questions Usually Lead to the Right Answer
Each remodeling project will generate a unique and lengthy set of questions. You should maintain a written log of such questions and ask them at the appropriate stages of the project. However, here is a list of five general questions from the outset that will help identify the best contracting partner for you.
How long have you performed work in this neighborhood and surrounding area?
First, you want a contractor with a well-established, successful track record among your neighbors. The contractor should also possess meaningful experience remodeling houses like yours and working with local permitting authorities, if applicable. Avoid inexperienced, “out of town,” and even certain cross-town contractors altogether.
Do you offer professional design and selections assistance?
Unless you’re willing to pay a pricey interior designer or happen to be very knowledgeable yourself, you want a contractor who can design the remodel and help you pick the right materials. Some contractors just offer a “you design it and we’ll install it” approach. They don’t know, and likely don’t care, how the remodel ultimately will look or function. Professional expertise in your corner will save you time, money, and stress.
Would my stated budget range and timing objectives be appropriate for this project?
You should be clear in your expectations for the project budget range and execution timing. If you don’t have any expectations yet, then ask for each contractor for his or her perspective. Listen carefully to the explanations and determine which ones sound most logical.
After interviewing multiple contractors, be wary of those whose opinions are wildly different than others. Your budget and timing expectations must be aligned perfectly with those of your chosen contractor. If not, one party’s expectations must be adjusted in advance or you need to find a different contractor.
Which licenses and insurance do you and your subcontractors carry?
Make sure the contractor carries any required licenses and full insurance coverage. The state of Texas does not license general contractors. However, master electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and other select tradespeople must be licensed. For your protection, the general contractor should carry adequate general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Key subcontractors should be insured as well. Before the work begins, ask for a copy of the insurance certificate.
What type of craftsmanship warranty do you provide?
A good contractor will, in fact, provide a meaningful warranty that guarantees the quality of the craftsmanship. After making the remodeling investment, you want to sleep well knowing the contractor will return to fix future problems – if any. A warranty is only as strong as the company providing it, so a track record, documentation, and physical presence are important. Avoid relying on just a handshake and hoping for the return of truck tail lights…
Find the Perfect Fit for Your Remodeling Project
To validate your positive perceptions of a contractor, ask for references from satisfied clients. Experienced, high-quality contractors will gladly showcase previous work and share names with you. Also, don’t be afraid to test the contractor’s knowledge or assumptions. If you don’t know something important related to remodeling design, materials or craftsmen, ask more questions.
Again, you’re relying upon, and paying for, that expertise and advice. Be careful when a contractor simply says yes to everything and tells you what you want to hear… Lastly, confirm your personality and working style match well with those of the contractor. After all, it will be a relationship, not just a transaction. You will need to work together as partners on many issues during the remodel.
Call TriFection Today!
TriFection speaks with thousands of prospective clients in the Greater Houston area every year. We listen to their remodeling objectives and help them determine if our business model of custom design and craftsmanship truly fits the proposed project. If not, they at least leave our discussions as better educated remodeling consumers. Call TriFection today at 281-548-2436 and let us know what type of remodeling project you may be considering for your home!