Recently, you’ve been considering updating and remodeling your home. Maybe your kitchen doesn’t function as well as it could. You work from home now, so you need a quiet space for Zoom meetings and phone calls. Or, you’d like to create the bedroom en suite oasis you’ve always dreamed of.
Many homeowners enjoy choosing the right tile for the walk-in shower, the perfect paint color for their bedroom, or the ideal kitchen flooring. But how do you go about vetting your remodeler? Choosing a knowledgeable, experienced, and honest remodeling contractor who can guide you through the entire project is essential. Where do you begin?
You need to find the right contractor for your project. For example, a business specializing in building decks may be unable to create your new, modern kitchen. Just because your brother-in-law had a great experience with a contractor who remodeled his basement doesn’t mean the same contractor can design your primary bathroom.
Vetting Your Remodeler
Vetting your remodeler will help you make a well-informed hiring decision. But, with so many contractors in the greater Milwaukee area, how do you choose the right remodeling company?
Let us help you select whom to hire with these simple steps below.
- What Is Your Project?
It may seem obvious, but before contacting any remodeling companies, decide what your project will be. What are your goals? What do you want to change? You might be surprised at how your priorities will differ when you have a discussion with your family. The final plans may end up encompassing more than you first realized.
Do you need a better-functioning kitchen with more storage? Have you always wanted to remove the wall separating the living and dining rooms? Do you want to finish your basement to have more room for your growing family?
Once you determine the issues, you’ll have some answers. At the same time, however, it’s important to listen to the suggestions the professional designer offers. Taking down a structural wall may not be the ideal solution – the contractor may have a better idea for your project.
2. Determine Your Budget
This is also important to discuss before calling any remodeling company: set a realistic budget for what you want to accomplish. Remodeling can be very expensive, so be ready.
Once you choose a contractor (more on that later), discuss your budget with them upfront. You have three options if your project is more expensive than you realized. You can:
- divide the process into multiple projects over a few years
- change the project to a smaller, more manageable size
- increase your budget to match the cost
Additionally, it’s important to split your budget into three areas: the decorating budget, a contingency budget, and the central budget.
- The central budget is for the main bulk of expenses: all supplies, fees, labor, finishes, etc.
- The contingency budget is an additional 10% for unexpected costs. During any project, “surprises” may pop up – wood rot, bad wiring, leaking pipes, etc. – that must be fixed before completion. So, if your budget is $75,000, it’s crucial to set aside another $7500+ for “just in case.”
- Once the project is done, you may want to buy artwork, furniture, curtains, bed coverings, etc. So, set aside some of the budget for new décor. This amount will vary depending on the room. If you didn’t use the entire contingency budget, that could be used, too.
3. Choosing Your Remodeler
Once you’ve decided on the project and determined your budget, it’s time to choose your remodeling contractor. Where do you start? Get recommendations from people you know and trust.
Ask for suggestions from co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members who recently had some remodeling done on their homes. Find out if they were happy with their contractor. How was the process? Are they pleased with the results? Did they go over budget? If so, why?
4. Other Ways of Vetting Your Remodeler
Consider talking with some real estate agents. Because they’re involved in the industry, they’ve probably heard about both good and bad contractors. The realtors may be able to suggest trustworthy, reliable companies that are experts in their field.
More people to get recommendations from are other housing industry members. Do you know any carpenters, plumbers, or electricians? How about material vendors that deal in tile, flooring, or appliances? Stop by the contractor’s desk at some local Big Box stores. Most of these tradespeople work with contractors and can tell you which ones have a good reputation.
Researching online is also an excellent way of vetting your remodeler. It can ensure a good project outcome. Look at the local Chamber of Commerce website. Are they members? Check out the NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) and NARImilwaukee.org websites. Again, is the contractor you’re considering a member? Go to the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website to see what they are rated and whether any complaints are filed against the contractor. Then there’s always Facebook Marketplace, Next Door, Houzz, Yelp, Google My Business, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and others to help you with vetting your remodeler. Each of these websites have customer reviews and will assist you in choosing the right remodeling company for your project.
5. Look at the Remodeler’s Website
Once you have two or three businesses you’re considering, look closely at their websites. Where is the business located? How long have they been around? Have they won any awards? Are the logos of the BBB, NARI, the Chamber of Commerce, the MBA (Metropolitan Builders Association), or any other professional associations located on the front page of their website? Look at the “Before and After” pictures. Does this contractor do the kind of projects you’re interested in having done?
Check out the contractor’s credentials. They should have a state and local business license. Go to the State of Wisconsin website to ensure they are licensed, and then check court records for any litigation or potential problems. Remember, these people will be in your home for several weeks or even months. Find out who they are and if they are honest, reliable, and reputable.
6. The Final Step to Hiring the Right Remodeler
The final step to vetting your remodeler is to interview them. Call to set up an appointment. Due to COVID, they may prefer Zoom for the first meeting, which is okay. When you meet, their body language will tell you a lot. Do they seem confident and trustworthy? How are their communication skills? Don’t rely on only using email or talking on the phone.
During your first meeting, pay attention to several things: Did the contractor answer all your questions, or did this person deflect and say, “I’ll get back to you on that.”- or – “Well, we can talk about that later.”? Did the contractor ask questions to find out more about what you want? Did they make you feel comfortable? Did the designer tour your space and understand how you want to make changes?
Trust your gut. Suppose the designer or the homeowner says something that makes you uneasy or question your decisions. In that case, this is not the right remodeling contractor for you. Thank them for their time and move on.
7. Compare Bids
Ask at least three remodelers for bids. Give each contractor a list of needs, wants, and products you’d like. Make sure the lists are all the same because if one of the contractors has a different understanding of the project, they will not be comparable. Be as specific as you can to get the most accurate bid estimates.
When reviewing the bids, be careful not to choose one just because it’s the least expensive. The contractor may have “forgotten” to include something or accidentally left something out, making their bid lower. Double-check what products (flooring, appliances, tile, etc.) they offer. If you want hardwood floors, but they have substituted vinyl, there will be a big price difference. However, contractors can often negotiate lower prices with their suppliers and pass on the savings to customers, making the costs different.
8. Communication is Vital
Even if you spend a bit more, hire the remodeling contractor that makes you feel comfortable and communicates well. The adage says, “You get what you pay for,” and excellent customer service, craftsmanship, and high quality are priceless.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak up if you want to make a change or notice something not quite right. It’s always easier to fix an issue sooner than later in the building process.
Design Tech Remodeling
Design Tech Remodeling has offered award-winning designs and outstanding services to southeastern Wisconsin since 1997. Their in-depth knowledge and experience in the residential remodeling industry have allowed them to custom design projects to their clients’ vision and exact specifications for over twenty-five years.
Design Tech Remodeling delivers remarkable service and customer satisfaction and creates high-quality designs and amazing results. They keep their customers happy by staying on budget, too.
The professional staff works with you at every step of the project. Designers guide you, starting with creating the ideal floor plan and assisting you in choosing the best finishes and products until the project is complete and you are satisfied.
The professionals at Design Tech Remodeling will create a home for you that matches your vision and helps it function better. Your home will be more enjoyable and – best of all – your remodeling project increases your home’s value. Contact the award-winning Design Tech Remodeling today!