By SEAN GANEY
Whether you are a homeowner who is ready to update a home you have lived in for years, or are looking to remodel a new property, remodeling can transform your space to meet your specific style and needs. There are very few decisions that can impact your home life and the value of one of your biggest assets than selecting the right remodeler. So property owners should vet and select the right remodeler for their project with the same approach and care as they would when hiring other professionals such as a lawyer, an investment adviser or even a physician. Here are 10 key things to consider when hiring a remodeling company.
1. Seek an advocate
Unless you’re an expert, and have an enormous amount of time, you will need someone who is able to assemble and manage a team of professionals to work together on your behalf. Complex projects require input from numerous players, and may include an architect or designer, various engineers, landscape designer, lighting expert and others. Having one party who takes accountability and manages the entire process while looking after your interests is key to a successful remodeling experience.
2. Plan early
Government regulations and the permitting process for home remodeling are becoming increasingly restrictive and challenging. An experienced professional who understands the ever-changing requirements can help you to navigate through this process and is invaluable during the early stages of your project.
3. Find a good match
Ensure that your contractor has a track record of success with projects similar to your own. Ask specifically about projects of comparable complexity, magnitude and level of finish, or requiring special areas of expertise, such as green remodeling or historical restoration.
4. Get first-hand info
Check the remodeling company’s current references and visit recently completed projects to see first-hand if you are satisfied with the caliber of work. The best remodeling firms will be able to provide you with a list of raving fans who will welcome you into their homes. Also, check the company website for examples of recent client testimonials from some of your neighbors.
5. Explore options
“Paper is cheap.” Take as much time as you need to make sure the design addresses all of your priorities and needs. It is better to invest in design that is relatively inexpensive, versus having missed opportunities or costly changes during the construction phase. Look to the remodeler for advice on cost-effective ways to increase your home’s value, such as using durable materials, incorporating specialty items you may not know are available, and investing in green technologies that will pay off over time.
6. Be wise
Beware of offers and deals that appear too good to be true. Remodeling remains one of the most reported industries at the Better Business Bureau. Understanding exactly what you are getting for your investment and taking steps to ensure the remodeler will be able to provide service in the long-term is essential. Asking for bank references, researching employee tenure, and confirming that subcontractors have been paid on time can help you evaluate a company’s financial stability.
7. Prevent stress
Especially for larger or more complex projects, insist on a full-time onsite project supervisor to orchestrate the entire process and all the players involved. This will help to keep your project on schedule and surprises to a minimum.
8. Be firm
Insist that a detailed production schedule be tied to your contract, and hold the builder accountable for these deadlines. While it’s not commonly provided, ask for a written schedule guarantee with a penalty clause to ensure your satisfaction.
9. Double check
Warranties can vary greatly from one remodeler to another, so make sure you understand exactly what your builder will cover and for what duration after the completion of the project. Also ask about what resources are available to provide service if problems arise in the future.
10. Take advantage
Now is a great time to remodel! Compared to a few years ago, subcontractors are more readily available and their costs are significantly lower, enabling contractors to produce projects more efficiently and deliver greater value.
Sean Ganey is an architect and Project Leader for BOWA, an award-winning company specializing in the design and construction of luxury renovations and remodeling in the greater Washington D.C. area. Reach Sean at SeanG@bowa.com or 703-734-9050 or visit www.bowa.com.