Are you thinking about remodeling your home? Hiring the right remodeling company will be the most important decision you make.
You will be living with your decision for many years to come, so you must find the right remodeling company who understands every aspect of your project (from budget and design, right down to the dirt work and up to the finished job). Your remodeling company also needs the know-how to coordinate and orchestrate the utmost of results from numerous trade contractors and countless suppliers.
Hiring the right remodeling company presents a dilemma for some clients. How can you put the project out for bids if the remodeling company is already hired? Isn't competitive bidding the way to ensure a fair price?
No, and here's why:
The 3 bid myth:
Some people select a remodeling company by soliciting three bids after their plans are entirely complete. The homeowner will generally discard the high and low bid; feeling picking the “middle” price minimizes the risk. The bid price drives the selection, but is that really the best way to hire a remodeling company? Is the “middle price” company really the company who will build the best quality project for the “best” price?
Look at it this way: When you purchase a new car, you're purchasing a product. You can see what it looks like and take a test-drive to see how it feels. With a building project, you're purchasing a "design concept" and you don't see the finished project until well after the contract is signed.
Remodeling is not remotely like car buying.
This is the reason why bid shopping works well for automobiles, but is a high risk for a building project. You can ask three dealers to price a specific make and model car, and be fairly certain you are comparing the same products. But with a building project, the products, quality of workmanship, service, timeliness and warranty can differ significantly.
There are many reasons for low bids including: incomplete or vague scope of work, “surprise” change orders added after construction starts, shoddy materials, poor craftsmanship, slow production, inadequate safety precautions, lack of insurance and licensing, no warranty service, and/or miscommunication about your expectation of quality.
Remodeling quality never runs dirt cheap nor should it.
If in-depth research to find the right remodeling company may seem like a headache, you must remind yourself that you are probably spending more money in one transaction than you will ever spend again, just short of your mortgage. It's true when they say that the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.
What's the best way to make your decision?
A thorough interview.
As no job interview begins by negotiating salary, hiring a remodeling company should not be any different. Before you get to compensation, you want to be sure you have a qualified applicant. Right?
If the remodeling company passes the interview, ask for a list of references. Then keep the following criteria in mind and ask past clients a lot of questions!
Professionalism, Timeliness & Care
- How was your rapport with the remodeling company?
- Was the communication good?
- Did the remodeling company have office staff to also communicate with?
- Did the company offer creative and/or better ideas to enhance your project?
- Was the company up-to-date in the latest technology, products and trends?
- How was the timeliness? Did they provide a construction schedule?
- Did they show up for work every day?
- Did they complete the project in the time frame promised?
- Were the areas of your home not being worked on protected during construction?
- Was the job site kept clean?
- How was the company’s response for warranty work requests?
- Did the company and their employees care?
Value and Investment
- Did the past clients feel their remodeling company charged them fairly?
- Was the Scope of Work detailed, discussed and given to the clients in a written document?
- Did past remodeling clients feel they obtained value for their investment?
- Did they feel the remodeling company was an honest negotiator?
- To sum it up, how do the past clients feel about the overall project quality?
The most important question.
Would you happily hire this remodeling company again?
Is there a current remodeling job in progress?
Ask to see it. If possible, talk to the clients who are actually going through the building process right now and ask them the same above questions.
Your final decision!
If you get positive and enthusiastic responses from past clients and you have the same feelings about this remodeling company, then this is when and how you should make your decision. Add it all up and you will be choosing an excellent remodeling company, who will build a quality project for you! After all, isn't this everything you want?
An easy way to check a remodeling company's contractor license and insurance
You want to be sure the remodeling company you are considering has a valid California state contractor's license. This is very easy to do via the Internet. Go to www.cslb.ca.gov and enter the pertinent information to confirm the license.
Additionally, be sure to verify if the remodeling company has workers' compensation and liability insurance, which is vital protection that every homeowner should want during their building project.