The old adage still applies: “If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.” We all are looking for a bargain no matter the purchase. Many people have put off their home improvements as a result of the economy for the past few years. With spring coming, plans for those postponed projects will get a new look. With that comes the question, “how do we select the right contractor?”
Home renovations, kitchens, bathrooms, and room additions are a little unique. If you were an expert in any of these disciplines you would not need a contractor or designer. So it’s fair to say you will be consulting a professional. The State Contractors Board recommends getting at least three estimates. That’s fine if you’re installing a new roof or changing a water heater or similar projects. What if you are adding a second story with multiple rooms, remodeling a kitchen or bath; does getting three estimates work the same way? The answer is no. These types of projects are complicated due to the physical constraints of your home, your unique needs, and the contractor’s experience. You may ask for a design or product, based on the contractor’s experience he may discourage you. If you speak with a second or third contractor and pose the same questions or requirements, you may get different answers. How are you supposed to distinguish who is right? Based on the answers, your estimates would be different.
A design/build contractor is your best choice. Having a contractor that’s a member of a national organization like National Kitchen and Bath Association, who works with designers that include Certified Kitchen and Bathroom Designers and Certified Interior Designers, can work to your best interest. The single largest benefit to working with a design/building contractor is consistency from the first meeting to the last nail driven. Calling and soliciting bids from just any general contractor, gives no assurance that they have the latest information that can only be obtained through continuing education. Calling a contractor out of the phone book, internet searches or even a referral doesn’t always end well. Just because a contractor did a good job working with a friend, does not guarantee your experience will be the same.
Do not sign a contract that contains allowances. Make sure every detail is spelled out including brand, model and finish, and all preliminary drawings are completed before you sign a contract. Most design/build contractors provide this preliminary service at no cost to potential clients. Use the initial process to interview contractors. Then select and work with only one contractor that understands you and your needs, and most important one you get along with. Your relationship can be compared to a marriage; the ideal match is someone you can count on when things get a little tough, who is reasonable and solves problems rather than creates new ones.
Back to the original point, “If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.” The lowest, highest or middle estimate may not be the best, if the contractor you obtain bids from does not have all the tools from planning to execution to complete your project. Understand you don’t have the experience, and don’t rely on the misconception the contractor has your best interest at heart. Call his clients, see his jobs, visit his showroom, do not just blindly trust. By following this basic path, your remodeling experience will be one you will remember forever, and not because you lived through the nightmare.
Article courtesy of Baccaro Construction.