Selecting a Remodeler
by Heidi Powell
Powell Construction Corvallis 541-752-0805
ome people think selecting a remodeling contractor is the easy part...just get three bids and pick the lowest, right? Most savvy consumers, however, know there is a better way.
It is a good idea to limit your search to companies with an established business in the local area. Contractors who have survived in a small community for many years have a proven track record of satisfying their customers.
Start by talking to your friends and coworkers. Look for remodeling project signs in your neighborhood and don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors. Most people are thrilled at the opportunity to discuss their project. No matter how you hear about a company, be sure to check that the firm is a member of The National Association of the Remodeling Industry at nari.org. “Remodelers” are trained to work in your home while you are living in it, whereas most home builders are not. If you are planning a remodel, look for the NARI designation.
Speaking of which, I recommend that you ask for a minimum of ten references and follow up with at least a couple. Ask open ended questions on subjects such as cleanliness, sensitivity to pets, security, timely completion, cost control, and communication.
Don’t forget to go to ccb.state.or.us to make sure that the contractor’s license is current and there is not a record of fines against it. This applies to trade contractors as well. If you are doing a project on your own and hiring any of the trades directly, from painting to flooring, check them out before you hire.
Partnership. A project should be a team effort between the contractor and the homeowner. An open exchange of information and ideas is paramount. Look for a team that listens well and works with you to solve the design challenges of your home.
There are some core values that I think are important in a good contractor/ homeowner relationship. As you are sifting through the names of contractors that you think may meet your needs, consider the following key values:
Communication. The burden of communication – on the details of
the design, terms of the agreement, changes in schedule, expectations during installation, etc. – rests with the contractor. Evaluate your potential contractor in this area during your first couple of meetings. Do they ask meaningful questions? Do they provide written information and documentation? Do they follow through on what they say they are going to do? Quality. It’s important that your contractor be a stickler for good quality in product and workmanship. It means enduring value over time and directly translates into the resale value of your home. Not every contractor can make improvements that will enhance your home’s value. You want to select a contractor who can design and construct a top quality improvement. Most importantly, look for a contractor that values your home: someone who treats it and your project as if it were his own. Homeowners will sometimes return to the same company for many projects over the years. A little research now can be the beginning of a lasting relationship for years to come.