You’ve decided to remodel your home. That means you’ve decided to, as Southern architect Bobby McAlpine would suggest, reflect “the gorgeous world inside of (you).” And that is no small decision. Nor is it an inexpensive one. But it is transformative. In this month’s column, we provide you with tips for choosing a top-notch remodeler to ensure a rewarding renewal.
Think of this matchmaking process in four categories: business experience, technical expertise, customer service and communication, and company policy.
In terms of business experience, legitimate remodelers will maintain a permanent mailing address and phone number so they can be reached in a timely fashion, and they will carry proper insurance. In Virginia, for jobs exceeding $1,000, contractors must be licensed as Class A (unrestricted dollar amount), Class B (up to $120,000 or $750,000 annually), or Class C (up to $10,000 or $150,000), each with appropriately stringent requirements.
Though there is always room for newcomers in the industry, someone with an established presence may be more likely to have financial stability and solid relationships with trade contractors and suppliers, not to mention an excellent reputation with peers and with customers who would be willing to offer recommendations. Membership in a trade organization demonstrates a commitment to professionalism, as do professional designations like Certified Graduate Remodeler.
When assessing technical expertise, beware of the very low bid, which could indicate a lack of knowledge of actual costs involved. Your remodeler should offer a warranty and have an intimate knowledge of products and materials used for your project, offer an array of options and maintain a portfolio of finished projects at the ready. This professional should also arrange for the building permit, thereby rendering him or her the contractor of record who is, as such, liable for the work.
Your remodeling contractor should be someone you are happy to welcome onto your property day after day, as well as someone with whom you feel comfortable addressing the issues that are bound to arise. Be sure this person not only listens to and fully understands what you need and want, but enthusiastically embraces your ideas. Ask for examples of how the contractor has solved remodeling challenges within budget for other customers. And assess whether this person’s communication style suits yours.
Finally, understanding company policy and procedures at the outset will help you sidestep heartburn along the way. Insist on a written contract to include work performed and a fair payment schedule. And be sure you understand procedures related to changes such as to design, materials or schedule.
McAlpine asserts that the only reason to build a house – and we would assert, remodel a home – is to “expand the territory of the heart.” Hopefully, these considerations will do just that while helping to avoid heartache.
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