Remodelers come in all shapes and sizes, from large to small companies, to handymen, to general contractors, to project managers.
So how can you possibly figure out who is best suited for your project? A renovation can affect your family and your day-to-day life. The investment can be quite large. How do you find a fit you can trust?
Many of us have been conditioned to get three estimates. And yes, that can work…but how do you disseminate the information once you have it? You can say it’s important to compare apples to apples. But what do you do when there are more than 7,500 varieties of apples? With so much variety, how can you really compare?
Take windows. There are so many options – how they operate, the frames, the kind of glass, the hardware, the performance, for instance. And yet windows are just one component. What about the hundreds, if not thousands, of other remodel decisions?
How do you choose? Do you discard the high/low estimates? Do you operate on instinct? These can work, for sure. But what about all the horror stories you hear? There has to be something more substantial in your decision-making, and there is.
One way is to interview renovators at the same time you interview architects or designers – before any commitment is made. It makes sense to have the designer and renovator work as a team, and from a designer’s perspective, it’s nice knowing that what was built was actually the design vision. Design/Build firms evolved from this concept.
You might have heard about remodelers through friends, or see them in your neighbourhood, read about them, or find them in an internet search. Recommendations from friends who have good experiences is an excellent start, but how do you know if the remodeler is a good fit for you?
Here are some questions you can ask your prospective remodeler:
- What is your process? Do you have one? Does the process fit me and my project? What is your specialty?
- How do you communicate?
- When am I expected to make decisions?
- Do you have multiple projects? How do you manage timelines?
- What are your expectations? Do I need to provide plans? Do I pick out the products? How will they manage my family’s and pets’ safety?
- How will you keep my home clean? What is your warranty? Is there a fee? What is your safety policy?
- What is your emergency process? What is your community involvement?
- After you have finished your interview with prospective remodelers, ask yourself:
- Do they talk over me? Do they listen?
- Do they really understand my needs?
I hope these tips will help you to love your new living space, and to enjoy friendships created along the way.
Herb Lagois is president of Lagois Design Build Renovate