Selecting the Right Remodeler
Importance of Selecting the Right Remodeler
- Not all remodelers are alike—some are highly qualified professionals, and some are not. Some are specialists and some are generalists.
- Carefully selecting a remodeler now can save you time, money, and trouble. Asking the right questions now can prevent unpleasant surprises in the future.
It is important that you trust and feel comfortable with them.
- You should choose a design/build remodeling firm that can reflect your sense of style.
- Remodeling your home is more than an investment. You will live in your home for some time, and selecting the right remodeler is an important part of making sure your remodeling project is done right.
Things for You to Consider
- What type of work will you want done? (Addition? Kitchen? Bath? Home theater? Multi-room project? Whole house renovation?)
- Are you looking for more space, something distinctive, and/or something especially functional?
- Do you want a separate architect and builder, or do you want the ease and safety of the design/build approach, where the remodeler provides both the architectural design and construction?
- How much do you want to invest in your home?
- Do you want to be able to live in your home during construction or not?
- How long will you live in your home and enjoy the project? Or, is the project to improve your home’s resale value?
- Do you need to have the work done by a particular time, or can you be flexible?
Define What’s Important to You
- Determine what you need from your project, what you want to have that isn’t essential, and what would be nice but that you could live without if it exceeds your budget.
- What level of involvement do you want in a project? Some remodelers want you highly involved, some barely involved except to approve design.
Visit the Remodeler’s Website
- No website? What does that tell you about how they view your needs and run their business?
- Get a feel for the type of work they do.
- Get a feel for what type of company they are and if they are the type of company you want to trust in your home.
- Does the overall site reflect a sense of design, quality, and commitment to client service and satisfaction?
- Look through the photo gallery and see if their work reflects a diversity of styles. Are they capable of adapting their work to meet their clients’ preferences?
- Do they clearly state the services they offer, warranty information, licensing, and insurance? Do they mention their qualifications, years in business, membership in any trade organizations, or qualifications?
- Is there anything they offer that is different from or better/worse than other remodelers?
- The Initial Phone Call
- Call the companies that you feel are the best match.
- Let them know what sort of project you are thinking about and your budget range.
- If someone must call you back, do they return your call promptly?
Meeting with a Remodeler
- Ask questions at the meeting. Decide beforehand what you want to ask.
- When remodelers visit your home, do they arrive on time? Do they have a neat and professional appearance?
- Pay attention to the remodeler’s communication style. Do they listen well? Do they ask good questions about the project? Or, do they mostly want to talk about themselves and how they do things?
- Can you see photos or examples of their work?
- Is the presentation by the remodeler professional? Do they address your questions and concerns well? Are the photographs clear? (They may be on the website.)
- Do they have recent references?
- Do they have references from homeowners for whom they worked 5-10 years ago?
- Make sure you check references. Ask questions beyond, “Are you happy with the work?” or “Would you use this remodeler again?” Ask about the remodeling process—”How it was to work with the remodeler?” Ask questions only they as homeowners can address.
Things You Will Want to Learn Before Making a Decision
- Do they provide design/build services, or construction only?
- What types of projects do they specialize in (type, quality, price range)? Do they do the kind of work you are looking to have done?
- Do they have a specialty?
- How many projects like yours have they done?
- How long have they been in business?
- How long has the owner been in the industry and in what capacities? What about their staff and subcontractors?
- Are they and their subcontractors licensed and fully insured?
- Do they and their subcontractors carry workers compensation insurance for all workers?
- How is the architectural design handled? Is it done in-house or contracted out?
- What are the qualifications of their designer/architect?
- Is the design fee a fixed percent of the project, or hourly?
- How will they present their design ideas? Do they use Computer Aided Design and provide you with detailed computer generated renderings?
- How do they assure that what they design can be built within your budget?
- How many revisions are permitted during the design phase before you incur more costs?
- Do they deliver exactly what you ask for, or do they add value by making well thought-out recommendations?
- Do they view the design process as a way to provide you with what you already have in mind, or a way to solve your problems and achieve your goals?
- Do you like the design, aesthetics, and functionality of the work they’ve done?
- If they use allowances to develop the contract price, do they base the allowances on low, medium, high, premium, or super? Do they provide full turnkey services? If so, what does that include? What would your responsibilities be?
- How do they help assure your project will be done on time and on budget?
- Where will they store construction materials?
- How do they handle change orders?
- How do they help you with product, color, materials, and other selections? Do they help at all?
- Who handles variance issues, permits, licenses, and government and environmental approvals and inspections?
- Is there one person who will be responsible for your job from start to finish and through the warranty period? Who is this person and what are their qualifications?
- In what specific ways do they stand behind their work?
Certifications and Associations
- What are the qualifications of the architects/designers? Are they licensed?
- What is the experience of and certifications held by their construction team?
- Are they licensed and fully insured in your area? What are the insurance limits? What about their subcontractors? Will they provide you documentation of the licenses and coverage?
- How specifically does their insurance protect you, the homeowner? Do you need any special homeowner overage?
- Do they belong to industry organizations such as:
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
- Remodelers Advantage Roundtables (RAR)
The Role of Chemistry
- Decide if you feel you can trust them in your home. Do you feel comfortable and confident in them?
- Does the remodeler appear to be knowledgeable? Are you confident in their expertise?
- What is their philosophy about what they do?
- Can they describe the process they use for a smooth, successful project?
- Do you feel comfortable communicating with your remodeler?
- Do you feel the remodeler really understands what you want from the project and from them?