Properly planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel can be one of the most exciting times of your life, but choosing the right remodeler can be a very stressful experience. You are entrusting a stranger with the safety of your money, your home and your family. Making the right decision can be the difference between a great experience and a remodeling nightmare. Take the time to choose a remodeler who understands your needs, speaks your language and respects your lifestyle. The following are summarized points from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) pamphlet “How to Choose a Remodeler.”
Remodeling Checklist: Overall Idea
Before you meet with a remodeler, develop an idea of what you want to do. Write a prioritized list of your needs and wants—and looking at magazines can give you some ideas. The more clearly you are able to envision and describe the project, the more clearly you will be able to convey that image to a remodeler. The remodeler will be able to help you consider traffic patterns, furniture placement, colors, lighting and how you want to use the space.
Remodeling Checklist: Budget
Next, determine a budget. Talk to your remodeler about financing options, or discuss them with a lender. Most importantly, make sure you divulge the budget to your remodeler. Not discussing your budget will result in wasted hours of design and presentation meetings for a project that may not meet your budget goals. And remember that it is just as important to not under-value your project as it is to not go over an agreed upon budget. The only way your remodeler can clearly understand your needs and the design limitations is to clearly understand your budget. If you are unsure what your budget should be, discuss this with your remodeler. A professional should be able to tell you the estimated average costs for your type of project, or tell you what you should spend on the project based on the value of your home.
When you hire a remodeler, understand that you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of the remodeler’s service will be reflected in the finished product. If you are interviewing more than one remodeler, make a decision based on professionalism and not price! A professional remodeler will save you money by doing your project right the first time. A good remodeler will:
- Offer in-house design services and have a professional, industry-certified design staff
- Understand that your comfort throughout the project depends on effective communication
- Maintain a safe and reasonably neat job-site and prevent damage to your home
- Provide the best quality materials possible within your budget
- Ensure your job meets or exceeds building codes and regulations
- Guarantee the quality of work with a warranty
Tips for Finding the Best Kitchen & Bathroom Remodelers
Before making a final decision, use the following tips to make sure your remodeler is the best person for the job:
- Check with your local Home Builders Association or Remodelers Council for membership.
- Do an internet search for the remodeler.
- Check for press releases and stories from the local media.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for any “unresolved” complaints.
- Check with your local Attorney General’s office for any fraud convictions.
- Make sure your remodeler carries the required local business licenses.
- Does your remodeler have a professional showroom?
- Make sure your remodeler carries your state’s minimum liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
- Ask the remodeler to share references with you; ask to see jobs similar to yours.
- Call the references and ask questions—would they hire the remodeler again?
- Verify how long your remodeler has been in business.
- Ask your remodeler if there is anyone with industry-recognized Education Designations (CKD, CBD, etc.) on staff.
Once you have decided on a remodeler, base the relationship on mutual respect and honesty. Communicate your desires, needs and expectations in writing. Bring up concerns promptly, and if you do not understand something, ask for clarification. Read the contract and make sure it is detailed. A professional remodeler will be clear regarding what is included and not included. A good remodeler will also be empathetic to your concerns and calm your anxieties. Move quickly to resolve all misunderstandings, and give your remodeler an opportunity to address and correct any issues before signing a contract and again once work begins.