One of the most important parts of a remodel is the contractor you hire to do the job. Homeowners have a variety of options. You can go the design-bid-build route, hiring a designer or architect and then finding a contractor to complete the project, or you can opt for a design-build process, working with a single company to oversee the entire design and construction process.
And while there are many reasons to hire a design-build contractor over an architect, you need to make sure you are hiring the right remodeling contractor. Here are some things to watch out for when hiring a contractor.
1. Poor Communication
A key component of the design-build process is communication. Working together, a homeowner and remodeling contractor can create a design that is beautiful, cohesive with the rest of the home, and functional.
If you notice a lack of communication or confusing information during the search process for a contractor, run! A design-build contractor needs to be able to communicate quickly and effectively to make the process run smoothly and end with a result that matches a client’s needs. And because the design-build company succeeds when its team effectively communicates, you want to avoid a company that does not demonstrate this attribute.
2. Not Seeking Out an Owner’s Opinion
A good contractor listens, but more importantly, a good contractor takes a homeowner’s desires to heart. After all, it is your home!
Your contractor should open a dialogue, giving expert opinions on what might work best for the project, but will always listen and work to achieve the overall goals of a homeowner. (Although, you should always heed the advice of a licensed professional.)
3. The Use of Subcontractors
An amazing part of the design-build process is the streamlined method. By working with a home remodeling contractor, you eliminate the middle man where a project is designed and then bid upon by various contractors. This creates a single point of responsibility. That central focus fosters a sense of teamwork and communication. Everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.
But all of this disappears with the use of subcontractors. While they may be able to construct a home addition or perform a major remodel, subcontractors will not be on the same page as your design-build team. They will not carry the same amount of responsibility and attention to detail as the home remodeling contractor.
4. Lack of Experience
Search for a design-build company that has years of design experience. Don’t base your decision on price alone. If a company lacks experience, steer clear.
But a lack of experience goes beyond just the number of projects and the number of years a home remodeling contractor has been in business. Experience can fall into the category of your home type.
Is your home a new build? Is it historic? Is it architectural? Whatever type of home you may have, you will need a contractor with experience in that area. Working with a historic home is extremely different from working on a new build. It is important to find a contractor who can seamlessly integrate a new home addition or any cosmetic changes with your current home.
5. Lack of Reviews
What previous customers have to say about a design-build company can be a clear indication of the quality of work you will receive if you hire them. And while bad reviews indicate bad work, a lack of reviews can indicate multiple things that may have you thinking twice about hiring a contractor.
A lack of reviews can indicate a lack of experience or time in the industry. They can also indicate mediocre work. Many clients are eager to share when work has been shoddy or when it has been extremely successful. Be sure to ask contractors to provide a portfolio and client references.
6. Asking for Full Payment Up Front
It is an immediate red flag if a contractor asks for full payment of the project upfront. While many contractors will ask for partial payment before the project begins, you should have a payment schedule in place for the overall project.
Payment typically occurs after major milestones such as a foundation being laid for a home addition or electrical wiring being fixed. A contractor should not ask for more than 15% of the project upfront.
If a bid, timeline, or project sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get caught in the trap of big promises. Contractors will promote their positive attributes, but a good contractor remains honest. It’s better to have an upfront contractor than one who overpromises and can’t come through.
Questions to Ask Potential Contractors
To help you avoid the mistakes above, spend time researching potential contractors. We recommend contacting and interviewing at least three contractors before making your final decisions. To help with your search, here are some questions to ask potential contractors.
- How long have you been in business?
- How many projects have you completed like mine?
- What is the best way to contact you?
- Are you licensed and insured? Do you provide any warranties?
- How long will a project like mine take to complete?
- Will you aid in the process of acquiring the proper permitting for my project?
- What does your payment plan look like?
- Can I see a copy of a client contract?
- How would we handle any disagreements?
Feel Confident in Your Contractor
Allowing an outsider to work on your home can feel unnerving, so you need a contractor that gives you confidence. Our Action Builders team works hard to provide accurate cost estimates based on the state of your home and your needs.
Every one of our home additions comes with a five-year workmanship warranty. We believe in our work and in meeting all of your needs. See our design-build process for more information on how our team can work with you to create a beautiful home.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today.