Choosing Your Team
What does it mean to choose a your team? What is the biggest thing to keep in mind when going through this process? Remembering a home is most peoples biggest and best investment and that which they spend the most money on at the time of purchase and each month, finding the right team takes more than one type of evaluation to help ensure you invest in it well.
Which came first the chicken or the egg? I reccomend choosing the whole team up front. Some clients will hire a designer, then an architect, then a contractor spread out over time and end up with a jumbled team. It is important to decied on all the players on your team so that as the project proggresses all can help with design, budget, scope of work, and make sure the project ends as you have envisioned it.
How to Choose your team:
1) What is first thing that comes to most peoples minds when deciding on industry professionals – Price
2) When thinking of price alone I am always reminded of the line from the movie Armagedon – Here we are getting ready to go into space atop 700,000 gallons of rocket fuel, 4 million miles of wiring, and millions of moving parts – all contracted out to the lowest bidder. How comfortable would you feel approaching your project with that mind set?
3) Question - Why would you want to trust your best investment, and the most expensive thing you purchase in your life to the cheapest service provider? Now this certainly does negate price, but homeowners need to be very careful when choosing a contractor and consider all the factors that go into a quote and the contractor’s business structure.
4) Overall be careful of certain terms and their potential impact – cheap versus affordable, budget conscience versus cutting corners, expensive versus quality, etc.
5) Pricing should not be the most prolific criteria on which to choose a contractor as remodeling is different than most other services that can be changed mid-stream if things are not working or the customer becomes dissatisfied. There are many factors that influence the process before, during and after the project. If you get to the point where you feel you might need or want to replace your contractor once the project has begun it is very hard to make this change and have another contractor come in. Most contractors do not want to come behind another contractor as they are hesitant to put their work on top of another’s. You also may have spent more than the work completed should have cost and not have the required amount to finish with a new contractor, especially if it requires removing some of the previous work. This eventually will cost more than originally budgeted to go back and fix items or even start over. This can take more time and cause more inconvenience to the homeowner, and potentially put your house in a worse situation then before the project began. Make sure you chose well. Your meetings should be like ongoing interviews. Get a feel for who this person is from an ethical standpoint. Don’t hesitate to ask poignant questions. You will have about 3-4 meetings to get a good sense of this person and how they will take care of your home and the project.
6) Other factors outside of price that one should consider that hold equal importance to the eventual budget; are scope of work, trust, communication, and reputation.
a. Scope of work is very much like a project profile – a scope of work is a detailed breakdown of what the project will entail, what are all the desires of the homeowner, what are the absolutes and what can change if budget constraints prohibit them, do research to define the style desired and to also make sure It is in keeping with the era of the house and the rest of the décor. In the outset this is probably the most important factor as it will drive your eventual budget and profile for the project, make sure you know what you want before you meet with anyone else.
b. Trust – Simply put you want a contractor you feel you can trust to be in your home and have other sub-contractors he trusts as well. This is gleaned as you meet and go over project details and establish a relationship. Remember a contractor is asking you to trust him or her more than you trust some people you have known for years.
c. Communication – Prompt, accurate, as constant as needed. A contractor should also relate to the homeowner exactly what is getting ready to happen and outlay a detailed plan of action, schedule, and expectation of the process ahead.
d. Reputation – A contractor is only as good as his last job and the strength of his clientele base. One factor to look for is repeat business and proliferation throughout a certain neighborhood.
e. Price – when looking at the price it should be an all inclusive budget that holds no surprises and encompasses the entire scope of work decided on by the homeowner and contractor.
7) Sometimes even though you can level the playing field, you can still get quotes that have a huge disparity of price. One additional way to evaluate a contractor is his business structure. Ask your self several questions; does he have an office and how large is it? Does he or she have a large staff? Does he or she keep their overhead low and company size down? Who will actually be working on your home and/or supervising the project? Sometimes there is a value in size and sometimes there is not. Sometimes this comes with a perceived comfort level to homeowners from either large or small companies.
8) Once a level playing field has been established, a homeowner can make a more apples to apples comparison. Homeowners need to decide the value they place on each of criteria that make up a project. These decisions will help them protect their home and maximize the enhanced value of their investment.
9) Homeowners should make sure they have a real understanding of the entire situation when entering into small or large renovations – Remodeling is a very invasive process; it takes your personal space, your home, and transforms it into a job site. This upsets a homeowner’s living area, routine, and causes inconveniences to the usage of the home. It requires a large amount of trust from a working and competency viewpoint as well as financial between contractor and homeowner. One needs a contractor that understands this and is sensitive to this; remember a contractor gets to go home and leave the project behind while the homeowner has to live amongst the disarray from start to finish.