Selecting a Construction Company for Home Renovation

Published by Wayne Kienbaum

Nationally, home renovations are on the upswing. The ‘Remodeling Market Index’ of the National Association of Home Builders has reached 57, its all-time high, in the third quarter of 2014.  The NAHB’s Remodeling Market Index averages remodeling ratings based on current activity and indicators of future activity. The organization also indicates that home renovations are likely to rise 2.7 percent in 2015.

But remodeling is a big investment, both financially and emotionally. And a lot of things can go wrong, from disagreements on preferences between family members to conflicts with contractors or other hidden problems can send costs increasing well beyond your budget. In fact, a lot of it depends on the construction companies. Finding the right contractor for your project is often challenging.

Knowing what to expect will help you to take a better decision and face challenges confidently. Here are some tips to help you select the best construction company for your residential renovation project.

Let’s begin with breaking down the task to a four step process:

1. Prospect for construction companies

2. Interview remodeling companies

3. Visit their offices o know more about how they run their projects

4. Speak to former and current customers to gather feedback

Easy, isn’t it! But there is more to the story. To be able to make a confident home remodeling decision, you need to go into the depth of the matter. So let’s discuss each of the above-mentioned steps in details.

Prospecting Contraction Companies

Simply start asking around. Talk with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours who have completed remodeling projects recently. Ask them why they prefer that particular contractor, if they would use the same contractor again and how the construction company handled problems. Though you can even find construction companies online but personal referrals help you find qualified service providers.

Remember the goal is to find contractors who can build the kind of design you have in mind. Besides, they should have a reputation for integrity and quality. Opt for contractors with a high percentage of referrals and repeat clients.

Look at their credentials as well. Once you have a few recommendations, do some preliminary research. You can either visit the websites of the construction companies or call them up to find out if they have the required licenses to accomplish the remodeling task.

The required licenses and other regulations differ from state to state and your home renovation contractor must meet those applicable as per your residing state and municipal laws. For example, all construction companies in Alaska performing residential improvements should be “licensed by the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.” The law also mandates general contractors to “post a bond for $10,000 and specialty contractors for $5,000.”

It is important to know if your contractor has the bond or not since it is the source of funds available to you if home remodeling project is negligently performed. Also, check for complaints against the construction companies. For construction companies in Alaska, you can check them here.

Interviewing Selected Remodeling Companies

The next step is to narrow down a few construction companies and start interviewing them. Short list 3-4 contractors, schedule a meeting, and have them out to your home. At this point you need to ask them a few questions to gain a better understanding about their skills and what you can expect from them.

Here are some questions you might ask:

How long have they been in this field?

Do they have records of completing projects such as yours successfully?

Do they usually stick to the time-limit and budget originally agreed upon by both the parties?

Will they provide personable staff for your project who will be responsible for scheduling, communication, and coordination of all parties?

Who will be responsible for getting permits and dealing with public officials?

Do they have long-term relationships with trades people?

How promptly they can respond to your inquiries?

Are their design-staff qualified and experienced enough to successfully complete your project?

Will they provide contract documentation including detailed drawings?

Will they put all agreements in writing?

Remember the communication must go both ways. The contractor should also ask plenty of questions. He must ask about the kind of remodeling tasks you have in mind and how he can add more value to the project.

Visiting Their Offices

Visit the offices or showrooms of your potential contractors. Talk to their staff and try to understand how they operate and track things. Are they organized? A visit to their offices will help you to understand how the construction company will run your job.

Also, check if they are dealers for certain products and if they can give you discounts on those products. Similarly, check their range of selection of products and whether they match your existing interior.

Another thing you need to inquire about is their project lifecycle and the process they follow to track milestone dates. Finally, ask what happens if they fall behind.

All these questions will help you get confident about the skills and expertise of the contractors and determine how capable they are.

Check References

Ask the contractors to see some of their projects and request references. Also, speak to former clients to check up on them. A few questions you should ask the references include:

How efficient the contractor was in executing the projects?

Were they (the customers) happy with the outcome?

Did the contractor stick to the give timeline and budget?

Did anything go wrong during the project? If yes, how did the contractor handled it and what could have been done differently?

Would the customers like to repeat their service?

It’s Decision Time!

Once you have done your background checking, it’s time to select your home renovation constructor. The constructor should then start working with you to document your objectives and review deadline and budgetary considerations. The goal is to build a design that suits your objectives without breaking your bank.

Moderated by : Camille Calicis

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