Monday, July 19, 2010

Biggest mistakes homeowners make when selecting a contractor

1. Not doing their homework. Make sure to research and investigate your prospective contractors. Look into their licensing and insurance. Check their website and project portfolios. Ask for references and client referrals, better yet, if possible see if you can view one of their projects in person. Make sure that they have a positive standing with the Better Business Bureau. Many times just asking these questions will scare away the non-legit guys out there.

2. Taking the lowest bid. First rule of remodeling and home building for that matter is that generally you get what you pay for. ALWAYS question the low ball offers, chances are you haven't stumbled on an amazing deal but instead there's a reason the price is so low and you don't want to find out why the hard way. If you've done your homework and the contractor is reputable don't hesitate to ask them about their bid. Maybe there is a reason they came in low and you can cash in on the savings without worry but check and double check, if they are legit they will have no problem discussing their pricing with you.

3. Comparing Apples to Oranges. This is one of the most frustrating things for industry professionals. Here's the scenario, a homeowner has grand renovation ideas, they go over all of their wishes and wants during the bidding process and dream big. Then they get the bid and faint from sticker shock, the price is much higher than they expected and far out of reach. Instead of discussing this with the original contractor to see which areas could be cut or lowered to get the price back into the appropriate budget they instead call another contractor. This time they tell the new contractor all of their renovation plans that have been scaled back, they take out the venetian tile of their dreams and say they can live without granite, etc. The new contractor comes back with a bid that is obviously much cheaper than the first and the homeowner chooses the second contractor for their project. You've just compared apples to oranges instead of letting both contractors bid the EXACT same work with the exact same materials. Don't make this mistake, make sure all of your bids are comprable to one another!

4. Having unrealistic expectations. You should be aware of the scope of your project so that your expectations are appropriate for the job. Simple research can save you many a night of headaches! Don't expect a full basement finish to take 10 days and invite company to stay at your home at the day of the deadline. This will cause undue stress in all arenas. Be prepared for the remodeling process to intrude in your daily life, not having a functioning kitchen is only temporary. Keep focused on the end result and the nuisance of contractors coming in and out of your home daily won't seem as bad. When it's all said and done the inconvenience will seem minor, trust us!

5. Paying too much upfront. Now I want to be clear that it is absolutely necessary for contractors to require money upfront for your project. This allows them to get the ball rolling on your project, to get subs in to begin work, and most importantly to order materials upfront so that your timeline stays on track. However, paying too much up front can spell disaster if you haven't done your homework and found yourself a reputable contractor. These are the stories you hear about contractors disappearing after the funds clear the bank. Make sure that you are covered in the contracts that you sign and keep copies for your records. And going back to rule #1, know your contractor and get referrals, that way you don't have to worry about things like this.


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