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Selecting a Contractor for a Home Remodel or Custom Home (Part II)
This is the second part of the blog post series on selecting a home remodeling or custom home contractor. The first post can be found here. In this part of the series we are going to look at what questions to ask potential contractors as well as how to compare estimates from two different contractors.
Asking Questions of potential Contractors
At this point, it is time to schedule meetings with the remaining contractors. This is a great time to learn about the contractor first-hand. Take note on his timeliness, professionalism, personality, and communication style. If there are shortcomings now, you can be certain it will get worse. Maybe most importantly, does it feel like you click?Again, remember to take notes
- What percentage of your business is repeat or referral based?
- How many projects have you done like mine in the past few years?
- How long is your warranty and what does it cover?
- Do you have a guaranteed completion date?
- Do you offer a fixed-price contract?
- How many years have you been in business?
- How does a typical job get managed?
- Do you have any tools to help manage the project?
- How often will you visit the job site?
- Who will be in charge of my job? Can I meet him prior to signing a contract?
- How will we communicate?
- Do you offer wholesale discounts on materials? Do you offer design/build services? How will that benefit me?
- Do you have professional interior design services available?
- How will you protect my home while you are working in it?
- How is the site maintained day to day?
- Are all change orders in writing and signed?
- Can you provide me with a lien waver at the finish of the job?
- Are you a member of NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) or NARI (National Association of Remodelers)?
Comparing Estimates from Two Contractors
The first thought most people have when you “compare estimates” is “what is the bottom line”? This is thought of as an industry standard, and sadly it is often used to select a contractor. There is much more say e to comparing an estimate and often a low bottom line is a red flag. Beyond that, there are many factors that won’t even show up on an estimate that will greatly affect the outcome of the project and the final bottom line. If you must compare estimates then diligently narrow the list of contractors to 2 or 3 and then also consider the following:
- First off, all contractors must have the same set of completed plan documents to work from. Estimating without completed plans is like playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
- All estimates must have the same information regarding product selection details. This should clearly show in the specifications. It is very difficult for a homeowner to have all the selections made prior to getting an estimate, and for this reason, estimates often will be of differing materials.
- Unreasonably low allowances should raise red flags. In the end, it will add to the bottom line, and it should raise the concern that there may be other areas where the contractor has made cuts.
- Verify that the contractor has been thorough. You do not want to be charged for his mistake, and you missing it.
- Make sure this is a fixed price bid. If not, you may be paying for the difference between a contractors low bid and the actual cost. We have lost bids in the past only to do the next project for a client after this trick is figured out.
- Remember change orders! If a contractors reference complained about a lot of change orders, you can plan on it too.
- Consider quality and integrity of the contractor. Can you trust that he will do the right thing behind the walls and under the floor? Most people do not have the experience to know the difference and must rely on trust.
Well, that about does it. We hope that you have enjoyed this two part blog post. Again, part I can be found here. We wish you the best of luck and hope that you experience is the best that it could possibly be.
Feel free to contact Kaufman Homes if you have any other questions or comments about this post or any others at 503-370-8390.