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Selecting a Potential Contractor for a Home Remodel or Custom Home (Part I)
We are going to be doing a two part series about how to go about selecting the right contractor for you whether you are doing a remodel, building a home, or doing small projects. This is a very important process that should not be taken lightly. We know that there are a lot of unknowns and questions that you have about your project and if you select the right builder they will be able to help you answer those questions. So take your time to read the following post and update we will post in the following week.
UPDATE: Part II can be found here
- Define your project
- Ask Friends and Family
The first step to reaching reputable home remodelers or builders is to ask friends, family and neighbors for recommendations. Be careful of the Yellow Pages. Just because someone has an ad doesn’t necessarily make a builder reputable and able to complete the job. Check theNational Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) web sites to see if they are members. After compiling a list, review the contractor’s web site, and check them out on the Construction Contractor’s Board (CCB) web site using the contractor search function prior to contacting them.
Asking Questions of Potential Contractor
Connecting with a home remodeler or home builder is important. It’s very important to start with questions that will verify the builder’s integrity and competency rather than getting wrapped up in the details of the project initially. The purpose of these questions is to narrow your search to the most competent contractors. After introducing yourself and explaining your project in simple and quick terms it is time to ask the following questions.
- Do you have an office location? What is your address?
- Are you licensed with the CCB?
- Are you properly licensed for Lead Removal? (in the case of a remodel)
- Do you offer design/build services?
- Will your company obtain all the permits for this project?
- Do you carry liability and worker’s comp insurance?
- Do you offer a written warranty, if so, what are the details?
- Could I get some homeowner and subcontractor/supplier references?
- Do you provide a detailed contract with a guaranteed price, clear specifications spelling out what is and isn’t included, a payment schedule, and start and completion date?
- Do you offer a free initial consultation?
If all of the questions are answered with a yes and you feel good about the conversation, then ask for references for projects that have been completed by them that are similar to yours. If there was hesitation, some no answers, or just not a good feeling, then cross them off the list. It is preferable to contact references prior to scheduling a meeting. It is easier to not schedule a meeting than it is to cancel a meeting! At this point the list should be narrowed to 4 or less builders. It is time to meet these choices in person.
When scheduling a meeting, ask the contractor if they could come take a look at your project and explain their construction process. Also, request to see samples of bids, specifications, contracts, and schedules if possible. This will really reveal how detailed and professional the contractor is.
References can be one of the most valuable tools to select a contractor. It is important to check more than one reference in order to get a fair perspective. This process can help you to begin to trust a contractor, disqualify him, or just help to generate questions. The following is a list of simple informative questions to ask a homeowner reference. Remember to take notes.
- What kind of project did the contractor do for you?
- Did you feel it was a quality job?
- How did you end up selecting this contractor?
- Were you satisfied with their design services?
- Did you get other bids? If so how did they compare?
- Was there a schedule and was it kept?
- Did you trust everyone in your home?
- Were the crew members and subcontractors clean and respectful?
- Was the project manager readily available and responsive?
- Was the job kept tidy and clean?o Were promises kept?
- How often was the contractor on the job? Were there times that the job sat idle?
- Were there change orders? Were you satisfied with the additional charges?
- What was your overall satisfaction (1-10)?
- Would you hire the contractor again?
Some homeowners are eager to show their home. If the opportunity arises, take a look at a completed project. You may see a lot in the quality of the design or the fit and finish. Your idea of quality may differ from the references.
Subcontractor or supplier references are also valuable. If a contractor can’t pay his subs or suppliers or is difficult to work with, you want to know. Often a sub-contractor works with many contractors and sees first hand if a contractor cuts corners or if they put the client first.
As stated above, we are doing a two part series about how to select a good remodeler or custom home builder. This post will be updated with the link to part two in the next week or so. Part II will cover the questions to ask a potential contractor as well as how to compare estimates.
UPDATE: Part II can be found here
Kaufman Homes would love to help you whether you would like to build a new home or remodel an existing.Please don’t hesitate to call 503-370-8390 to schedule an appointment.[/vc_column_text][dt_gap height=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row]