10 Things to Do Before You Contact a Remodeling Contractor

10 Things to Do Before You Contact a Remodeling Contractor Republic West RemodelingIf you follow some proven advice before hiring a remodeling contractor, you’ll likely avoid a lot of stress.  In fact, the extent and quality of planning directly impacts a project’s success or failure.

With proper preparation, you’re in a better position to avoid issues and unexpected expenses.  You can then focus on enjoying the experience of upgrading your home to better reflect your lifestyle and improve overall function.

The following list represents the top 10 things you need to do before you pick up the phone and talk to prospective contractors:

1.     Determine the Reasons Why You Want to Remodel

Homeowners typically remodel to increase their home’s value and enhance their living space.  Common projects include updating an outdated room, adding more space, creating better flow, providing additional storage, incorporating amenities, improving energy efficiency and more.

It’s important to do some soul-searching to determine the real reasons behind your desire to remodel.  Some people are fixated with keeping up with the Joneses.  Having what others have becomes a priority and decisions become based on emotion rather than objective criteria.  If this is one of the main reasons you’re remodeling, you need to think more critically and objectively about your project.

Most people want to make money on the potential sale of their homes.  Even if you don’t plan to sell, it’s important for your home to grow in value over the years.  So, you’ll want to be careful you’re remodeling for the right reasons and the end result will not negatively affect your home’s current and future value.

2.     Look Carefully at Your Neighborhood 

Even though you don’t want to base your remodeling decisions on what the Joneses are doing, you need to consider what’s happening in your neighborhood.  What’s the standard configuration for other homes?  Three bathrooms?  Four bedrooms?  How does your home stack up to comparable homes?

First and foremost, your remodeling decision must involve making your family life better.  Then, you need to evaluate neighborhood values and whether your proposed project makes sense for your area.  Over-improving for your neighborhood puts your remodeling investment at risk.

3.     Estimate How Long You Intend to Stay in Your Current Home

How long you plan to own your current home should have an important impact on the extent of remodeling you do.  It should also affect the type of project you undertake.  If you’re going to sell in a few years, do you really want to make a significant investment in remodeling?  You not only want to recoup your investment in a remodeling project, but you want to get the most enjoyment from it for the longest period of time.

Some important considerations about remodeling your current home include where you see your family in the near future.  Will you and your spouse be an empty-nester soon?  Are you planning to have more children?  Is it possible you or your spouse may have to relocate for a new job?  Although life presents many surprises, you can think about what’s likely to happen and plan your remodeling accordingly.

4.     Determine Your Likely Return on Investment

Return on your remodeling investment is important even if you don’t plan to sell your home any time soon.  For most people, a home is the biggest investment they’ll make and the largest asset they’ll own.  Therefore, you need to preserve and increase its value over time.

To determine your expected return on investment, you first need to know your home’s current market value.  Websites exist that provide fairly accurate value ranges.  These sites also provide recent sales activity so you can see how comparable homes in your neighborhood are valued.

If you expect to stay in your home for a short time, your return on investment becomes more critical. Therefore, you need to understand current market dynamics.  For example, what’s the trajectory of home prices in your neighborhood?  Are they going up, down or sideways?

Also, if your home’s value is below the average of other properties in your neighborhood, you may want to consider improvements even if you plan to sell soon.  If your home lacks a bedroom or bathroom, you can increase value and investment return by remodeling.  But, if your home is on the upper-end of home values for your area, think carefully about adding further improvements that might hinder recouping your investment.

Your investment return calculus boils down to what your current home’s value is and how long you plan to stay before selling.  A shorter duration in a home increases the importance of a quick positive return.  However, if you plan to stay in your home forever, you can afford to focus more on enhancing your lifestyle and less on an immediate investment return.

One last consideration regarding returns on investment:  Don’t forego important repairs to fund an enhancement to your home.  In other words, if your foundation is cracking, your electrical system is outdated or your plumbing is causing backups, your project must solve these problems first.  Not doing so could be dangerous for you, your family and potential new homeowners.  And, you could also end up spending more in the long run if you delay critical repairs.

5.     Establish Your Budget

Creating a budget is one of the most important steps in the remodeling process.  Unfortunately, many homeowners underestimate remodeling costs.  And nothing can be more disappointing than scaling back a dream project once you’ve got your heart set on it.

To avoid a letdown, make sure you know how much money you have to devote to a remodeling project.  Then, get an idea of what your project will cost and whether it fits within your budget.

Of course, your remodeling contractor will provide an accurate estimate of all costs.  Using their expertise and experience, they will also know how to stretch your available funds so you get as much bang for your remodeling buck as possible.

6.     Decide How You’ll Finance Your Remodeling Project

Working with a remodeling contractor requires you make periodic payments during the construction process.  Along with establishing a budget, you’ll need to determine how you’ll make these payments.  Will you tap your savings or use credit?

With the estimated cost in mind, you can determine how you’ll pay for your remodeling project.  What makes the best sense depends on your specific financial situation.

Many homeowners use financing, such as home improvement loans, a home equity line of credit or a cash-out refinancing of their current mortgage.  Low interest rates make these options attractive.

If you plan on using financing, it’s a good idea to make arrangements well in advance of contacting a remodeling company.  Once your financing is lined up, you can begin your project promptly after selecting your contractor.

7.     Create a Wish List

Obviously, you want to get as much as you can afford in your remodeling project.  With never-ending design options, creating a wish list can seem overwhelming.  Sometimes, you may not be aware of everything that’s available for your project.

So, explore your options by visiting design websites, showrooms and home improvement stores.    You can also look at design magazines and watch home improvement shows.

When you make your wish list, think carefully about how you and your family use your home.  Focus on improving things like traffic flow, available space, special needs and more.

An important part of this process is always keeping your budget in mind.  Because almost every budget is limited, you’ll likely need to make some trade-offs.  You can start by including everything you want on your list.  But, then you need to realize you’ll probably need to narrow it down.

This process helps you decide what’s really important.  It also helps you avoid going overboard on your spending. By prioritizing what you want and matching it to what you can afford, you can avoid setting yourself up for disappointment and help your project proceed smoothly.

8.     Formalize Your Thoughts and Put Everything Down on Paper

After you’ve narrowed down your priority list, formalize it on paper.  A well thought out plan will help communicate your vision and expectations to your remodeling contractor, as well as set boundaries for the scope of work.

Compiling your list of ideas is a first step.  However, you should also consider creating some rough drawings.  Investing in some consumer-focused home design software can help you do this.  These tools are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

When you develop drawings using software tools, you can see issues even before your contractor comes on-board.  For example, if the room expansion you’re planning protrudes farther into the yard than you expected, you can make some adjustments or re-think the need for that particular project.

Another caveat when formalizing your thoughts on remodeling:  Don’t forget to talk to other people who have completed similar projects.  They can provide a wealth of information and help you avoid making mistakes.  Even if you don’t personally know anyone who’s done a remodeling project, you can seek advice from people online.

9.     Know What to Expect During Construction and Prepare Accordingly

By its very nature, remodeling is stressful and messy.  Here are a few things to expect during the process so you aren’t caught off-guard:

  • Even the best remodeling company will not be able to mitigate all the mess that comes with remodeling.  You must be prepared to deal with dust, noise, workers and materials in your home.  Bottom line – your new space will look a lot worse before it looks better.
  • Decide before your project begins how you want workers to behave in your home.  For example, some rules important may include no smoking, not playing music or using protective footwear when inside.  You should also think about the work schedule you want to maintain and how you want the crew to clean-up after each day’s work.  Making sure doors, gates and windows are closed, as well as being considerate of neighbors are other considerations.
  • More important than protecting your home, you want your children and pets to remain safe throughout your project.  Make plans for how you’ll keep everyone away during construction.
  • If your remodeling project includes a much-used space, such as your kitchen or bathroom, you’ll need to figure out a replacement during construction.  This means eating out more if you’re remodeling a kitchen or having the family all use one bathroom until another is remodeled.  You also need to consider storage for items removed from the remodeling space.

10.  Develop a Short List of Qualified Home Remodeling Companies

By completing steps one through nine above, you’re ready to begin the contractor selection process.  The following tips will help you make the right decision when hiring a remodeling contractor:

  • Get referrals from everyone you can think of — suppliers, trade associations, neighbors, friends, family, online resources, etc.  Your goal is to hire the contractor with the best credentials and client references.
  • Hiring a contractor that’s licensed, bonded and insured is an absolute must.  Don’t be persuaded to go with an unqualified company because they offer a lower price.  Working with an unlicensed contractor can end up costing you a lot more.
  • Select a contractor with specialized and local experience.  You want to make sure your company knows how to complete your exact project and has the track record to prove it.
  • Make sure you have the flexibility to customize the contract.  If some important clauses aren’t included, you’ll want to add them.  If some term doesn’t sit well with you, you need to be able to negotiate something more acceptable.

Working with a Remodeling Contractor

To ensure the project of your dreams, you need a proven professional who can complete work promptly, manage costs effectively and solve any problems that may surface during your project.

Republic West Remodeling makes the remodeling process as painless as possible.  With over 18 years in business, we’ve learned a thing to two about how to efficiently complete projects to every customer’s expectation.  And our testimonials, references and track record back this up.

We’ve also developed the Dream Assurance Plan™, a custom remodeling process that strives to deliver a pleasant experience and a successful outcome for our customers.  We’re determined to transform the expectations that every remodeling project will be a nightmare.

The Dream Assurance Plan includes three concepts:

  • Design & Visualization
  • Cost Certainty
  • Time Certainty

Republic West Remodeling assures your custom remodeling project will be as you visualized throughout the entire process – from creative design to detailed planning to execution and construction.

For more information on home remodeling, or to request a free, no obligation, design consultation, visit http://www.republicwestremodeling.com/remodeling-and-construction.php or call (480) 478-8700.

Jim Weisman (645 Posts)

Jim Weisman founded RW Remodeling in 2011 after co-founding Republic West in 1995. Jim’s strong belief in the importance of ethical standards, honest communication and quality work make RW Remodeling a unique home remodeling company. For more than 19 years, Jim Weisman and his team have been proudly delivering what their customers want; their dream home.