If you've never remodeled before, you might be wondering how to go about finding a reputable contractor, when is the right time to talk to one, and what questions you should be sure to ask? It's always a good idea to begin by asking friends and neighbors in your community. Look for ones who have recently remodeled or have dealt with contractors in the past. Contractors who specialize in kitchens, bath and mudrooms are even better ;) You can also search on line to check out contractor websites which should look professional, include finished photos and tout happy customers :) Lastly, try googling the NAHB or National Association of Home Builders to search for a chapter in your area. This is a great way to find local professional builders who are committed to the building standards where you live.
So now you know how to find a good contractor, when is a good time to meet with one? When you are getting serious about moving forward, it's time to get a general cost estimate to make sure you have set aside a realistic budget. Many factors will of course, play into wrapping your arms around this MAGIC NUMBER... for both you and your contractor alike.
What exactly are you wanting to do? Are you keeping your existing floorplan or moving things around? Are you wanting to remove any walls or make structural changes? What quality level of materials do you want? What is your project time frame?
All of these questions play into your contractor's labor cost which they will estimate based on time and materials. Also included (in your eventual contract) are ALLOWANCE ITEMS... line items to be selected by YOU, the homeowner or designer on your behalf. Examples of line items would be optional materials like cabinetry, countertops, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, flooring, tile, hardware, etc. A golden nugget of wisdom I will share with you from working with hundreds of homeowners over the years... (TRUST ME)... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and not all budgets are created equal. What is acceptable and reasonable to your contractor may not be the same for you and your expectations. Some builders will create low budgets for allowance items because it lowers the overall price of their bid. BEWARE of this strategy. It's no fun designing your dream kitchen when you can't afford to pick out the finishes and materials you have your heart set on. It's probably a good idea to go with the contractors bid that comes in around the middle $.
Not to sound too "SALELSY" -- BUT this is exactly why I highly recommend designing your new kitchen before you hire a contractor. You will know what materials you want and how much they cost up front.
It's about educating yourself before signing a contract. It's about learning how much materials really cost and what you can and can't live with. A few more advantages to having your design plan and material quotes in hand BEFORE hiring your contractor are:
It allows for an apples to apples $ bid comparison between multiple contractors. It clearly communicates what finish levels you want. It expedites the contractor pricing process. Your contractor will be more organized and prepared for your project. It speeds the construction time frame by allowing for pre-ordering of materials and avoiding potential inventory issues.
Whew! That was a lot of information wasn't it?! I hope this blog gives you a lot to think about and most importantly, EMPOWERS you to be in the drivers seat of your remodel plans! Be on the lookout for next week's post where I will provide a specific list of important questions you want to be sure to ask any potential contractor.
Enjoy your weekend!