With so many businesses on the market, it is not an easy task to choose the right contractor for your renovation project. You can start looking online or asking around. Word of mouth is always the best and the safest way to go. If you have to look online, there are certain criteria to keep in mind besides general rating and number of years the company has been in business. We all know that being found on the first page online doesn’t necessarily mean being the best in the industry.
Here are some guidelines that might be helpful to homeowners in their search for reliable Design and Remodeling Contractor:
1. First and foremost, you need to get clear on what you are getting for a design. Ask the company how they usually work with their clients to determine their needs and goals. Customer oriented remodeler will always start with asking multiple questions about your project and about your motivation to do the remodeling.
Consider it a good sign if you will be asked to put your thoughts together in the form of “Wish List” or “Hate List”. That means that your Contractor is willing to listen and to focus on your needs rather than making it yet another routine job.
Nowadays there is a great online source of inspiration and design ideas named Houzz. You can create your profile for free and put together your own Idea Book by adding the photos you like with just one click of your mouse. This Idea Book can easily be shared with your Designer so that both of you can collaborate. Watch out if your Designer doesn’t sound enthusiastic once you offered this type of communication.
2. Find out how many options of preliminary plans your Design and Build Company usually offers for a discussion. Seek a specific answer whether you will be given just a couple of plans or at least several options (which most remodeling projects usually contain within their potential).
3. Most people are not visual enough to get a clear vision of the future space by just looking at floor plans. If your Designer is willing to take time and create a 3D renderings for you, you will be able to make a well informed decision and to have a piece of mind during the renovation.
3D design often becomes a MUST when the floor plan needs to be changed. You don’t need this “oops…” factor down the road.
4. Ask, how many revisions you might have before you get to the plan you really like. It is OK if your Designer will offer to go by the hour for every additional revision. You will still benefit from that.
5. Find out if you will maintain your freedom to choose materials, fixtures and appliances. Some Design/Build Companies require that everything is purchased through them. It usually means that your choice is somewhat limited and your interests are not the main priority. You might be getting a “cookie cutter” while paying more.
6. Your best option would be if you can get personal design assistance to select and to coordinate fixtures, finishing and appliances. You might need to be paying your Designer for design consulting by the hour. Some Design/Build Companies offer such service as complimentary with a signed contract to do the work.
7. It is very important that your Designer stays with you during entire renovation process. There are often unforeseen changes that need to be made to the original plan after demolition is done. You don’t want to be left alone to make important decisions about those changes. And you don’t want to leave those decisions solely upon the Builder without your Designer taking care about aesthetics and functionality.
8. Before signing up with the Design/Build Company ask for references. Most companies will have nice websites with great testimonials by former clients. This all can be well and good, but ask for some real people to talk to via e-mail or on the phone. If the company is not new to the market and really does a great work, you will be given those references with no hesitation. The very fact that your Builder has no problems with your request, is a good sign. You don’t have to call everyone on the list. Contact just one or two people if you want.
And, there is always a Better Business Bureau website to check about the business. Even if the Company is not affiliated with BBB, there will be a record of any complaint or dispute made by consumers against that business. It only takes a few minutes to check it out.