Selection of a contractor is the most important step in any remodeling project. You’ll be making a substantial investment of your time and money in this undertaking, and the quality of your experience will depend largely on who you bring on board to manage or conduct the work – The Contractor!
Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin, so these guidelines can help you get started.
- Get Referrals.
Ask around. Talk with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, etc. Anyone who has undergone a renovation project will have a story to tell. There are certainly some horror stories out there, but keep listening. The cream always rises to the top, and you’ll start hearing some recurring names pop up as reliable, quality contractors. You can also check with the local Chambers of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and/or trade associations.
- Call them.
Despite what you may have heard, contractors are approachable. We want your business and are eager to talk with you and share our knowledge. Here are some great starting questions.
a. What is your area of expertise?
Make sure they do perform the type of work you are looking for. There is no sense in having a mason give you a proposal on kitchen cabinetry.
b. What other services do you provide?
While many contractors can perform a wide range of services, others may not have the appropriate licenses or skilled personnel to deliver all the required elements of a project.
c. What geographical areas do you service?
d. What is your availability?
Most often, good contractors will have a backlog of clients waiting for their services. You need to know how long it may take to start your project and determine whether that fits your needs.
e. What references can you provide?
Call the contractor’s references and check them.
- Contractor Visit.
The surest way to find out if a contractor will be a good fit is to meet with them in person. Take note of:
Does the contractor show up on time, presentable and well prepared, having done his homework? Or does he arrive late and look like he just climbed out of a trench, with his truck leaking oil on the driveway?
b. Communication, communication, communication
This is probably the most important aspect of any good business relationship! Make sure you can easily convey what your needs are and pay attention to whether the contractor takes notes and asks pertinent questions. Does he understand what your vison and tastes are, or is he trying to sell you what he wants to provide? Does he understand any special circumstances surrounding your household and parameters of the work environment?
c. Attention to detail
If your meeting is at the project site, is the contractor taking field measurements of the space? Is he checking to ensure there is adequate access, power, and water services? Is he noting existing clearances in the ceiling plenums and doorways? Does he discuss protection of existing spaces and finishes with you?
- Review Contract Proposal.
After you have met with a few contractors and feel comfortable enough with them to invite them to bid your work, it’s time to evaluate their written proposals.
a. Is the proposal provided in a timely manner?
b. Is the scope of work clearly communicated and spelled out?
c. Note specifically what work is excluded. This is as important as what has been included, because you may have to add additional allowances to complete the full scope of work. You may even have to solicit additional subcontractors. This is very important when you compare multiple bids.
d. What is the schedule? Often this is as important as price. Make sure you understand the whole process. Is there a preconstruction process for design, engineering, permitting? Is there a lengthy procurement time for materials? How long will the actual construction process take? This should be framed out in the proposal.
e. Last but not least – Price. You must be able to evaluate all your bids on an apples-to-apples basis. This means if Contractor A has provided a full scope of work but Contractor B has not, you will have to add supplemental cost to Contractor B’s bid for a fair comparison. Also note the deposit requirements and schedule of payments outlined, as it will affect your cash flow throughout the project.
f. Review all Bids. You should now be in the best position to make an informed decision regarding selecting a contractor. Although price is important, all of these important factors must be considered as you your final determination.
- Follow up basics.
Once you have selected your contractor, make sure you request the following paperwork:
a. Copy of insurance from the contractor and any subcontractors involved
b. Copy of appropriate licenses
c. Copy of permits, if applicable
d. Warranties upon completion
e. Waivers of Lien upon completion
Calusa Kitchen and Bath is a full-service contractor that can meet all your renovation needs under one roof. Truly a “One-Stop Shopping Experience.”
Please call us to set up an appointment for a free design consultation, or stop by our showroom at 6120 Porter Rd, Sarasota Fl 34240 to discuss your upcoming renovation project!