March 3rd, 2011
10 Things your General Contractor Wishes you
Knew About Home Remodeling
10. A General Contractor’s License is a Credible and Legitimate Distinguisher
As home remodelers, we know that for the most part John and Jane Homeowner don’t know, or even want to know, much about general contractor licensing. That’s OK! You don’t have to – you’re homeowners. But we as licensed remodeling contractors should know all about it, and hopefully you learn enough about home remodeling projects before picking up the phone to know the number you need to be dialing is for someone who is licensed (and insured) to perform home remodeling work. As an individual who works in the home remodeling industry and has taken the National Association for State Contractor Licensing Administration Exam, this test – and any remodeler who passes it – is no slouch. It’s not like a driver’s license, fishing license or marital license that simply requires an application and processing fee to obtain. General Contractors must demonstrate thorough knowledge of building codes, OSHA standards and job-applicable practices to pass the exam and obtain a license. But, the credibility shouldn’t stop there. Beyond wanting some smarty-pants who can pass a test as your remodeling contractor, look at it this way: do you really want to open the door to your home for someone who doesn’t know – or CARE – enough to “do the dirty work” and do what it takes to obtain a contractor's license? I would guess not. Remodelers are often fully renovating your most important investment, and its foolishly unwise to employ a second-rate contractor to manage your home remodeling project.
9. The Weather is Always a Factor with Home Remodeling – Always.
Even with interior remodeling, the weather always plays a factor in scheduling and thus the ultimate completion of your project. Especially when it comes to building home additions and other exterior renovations, it goes without saying that some climates are just not conducive to quality work. Please don’t think we’re “fair weathered” just because it’s raining and we aren’t putting up your siding with our goulashes on, or it’s a little chilly and we’re not there to finish painting your trim. The truth is, if a home remodeling contractor were to do either of those in conditions like that he’d be doing you a disservice, because they both will likely result in major problems in the intermediate future. Take it from your general contractor that we want to get your remodeling project completed as quickly as possible too; but a quality remodeler will not compromise quality for quickness. There is a true balance to managing home remodeling projects efficiently, and trusting us to incorporate your remodeling project with Mother Nature’s schedule is your best bet.
8. Home Remodelers aren't Psychics – They Can't Read Minds
Although we’ll do our best to understand exactly what you want from your home remodeling project (and we’ll give you all the tools to help you show us), we still can’t know exactly what you have pictured in your head unless you help us. Everyone has a different idea of style, design and functionality, so if you don’t educate us on exactly what your expectations are for your newly remodeled space, we can’t very well build it. To some, a kitchen remodeling project isn’t complete without luxuries like granite countertops, custom cabinetry and shiny new appliances. But to many others, kitchen remodeling is a functional upgrade that is more about satisfying a need than a want. If you want a “modern lavatory” at the end of your bathroom remodeling project, show us one you like! And if you want us to build you a custom home addition, help us populate the design we’ll draw for you so the floorplans are exactly how you want them. As a good home remodeling contractor we’ll be able to build you anything you want – but it’s up to you to tell us what, exactly, that is.
7. With Home Remodeling, You Have to Expect the Unexpected
“Plan for the worst, hope for the best”. As professionals in the home remodeling industry you may never hear us actually say this phrase, but it’s a concept general contractors have to live by. The homes we remodel are as unique as the individuals living in them, and just like the medical industry, it’s nearly impossible to know the conditions and limitations of your property until we really get in and take a closer look. We’ll do our best to anticipate potential roadblocks, but there are just some hurdles we won’t know we have to clear until it’s time to jump over them. Additionally, home remodeling has another layer of complication that traditional building contractors won’t encounter: you. Not only will you likely be living in the home and trying to get on with your daily lifestyle while we’re remodeling, but you’ll also be there to watch, scrutinize and question our every move. Because of this communication between us remodelers and you homeowners is key, but that also means that when something doesn’t go quite according to plan you need to worry. There are a multitude of moving parts, pieces and people that will go into completing your home remodeling project on time and on budget, so you have to trust our ability to manage the project even when we’re faced with challenges. We’ve learned to juggle remodeling projects so you don’t have to, but you do have to learn to trust us.
6. Home Remodeling is Messy
Regardless of how careful we are while in your home and how thoroughly we clean it up when we’re through, it’s inevitable that with any home remodeling project – be it an interior renovation or exterior renovation – there’s going to be dust or some sort of a mess that comes along with it. That’s not to say we won’t try our best to keep it to a minimum so you can live your lives as normally as possible, but keep in mind that when you hire us to manage your home remodeling project you’ll literally be living in a construction zone for most of the project. Of course we’ll install protective coverings on your floors, thoroughly seal off and tape the parts of your home we’ll be remodeling if possible, and may even have you adjust your HVAC usage during the project, but that doesn’t mean there won’t still be dust. A good home remodeling general contractor will not only work to keep your home uncluttered, well-kept and as dust-free as possible during the project, but we’ll also send in a professional cleaning crew at the completion of your remodeling project as part of the services we offer to you. But, dust settles, so throughout the project our constant wipe-downs and cleanups might seem minimal. However, if you keep in mind we’re doing our best to keep your space clean, comfortable and as construction-free as possible, it will be much easier for us both to manage throughout the remodel.
5. We Beat Home Improvement Stores on Price
Yes, as a licensed professional in the remodeling industry, you’re going to pay more up front to complete your renovation project than you would if you did it on your own. You’d also do the same if you built your car from the ground up instead of going to the dealership and buying one – but who actually considers that?! In an economy that has seen better days even general contractors know you’re conscious about your price, but let us nip something in the bud right here and now: we get better prices on our products than you will at your local home improvement store, and we get far superior quality. Think of it as a “bulk” discount – remodeling is what we do for a living, and our partners reward us with competitive pricing and excellent support in exchange for our loyalty and business. That’s not to say we have anything against the majorhome improvement store around the corner (in fact you’ll see many of us licensed general contractors there from time to time picking up odds-and-ends…but only odds-and-ends), but our vendor partners wouldn’t be able to survive and stay in business if they didn’t have something to offer the home remodeling industry. We can say from experience their products are better, their staff and support are better, and yes, their prices are comparable and in most cases better than those offered at home improvement stores. So fight the urge to tell us you’ll “just go buy your tile at the Home Depot” or “pick up your flooring from the Lowe’s”. A good home remodeling contractor won’t install products they don’t endorse anyway, and in the long run you’re only compromising yourself and your home (and again – WILL NOT BE SAVING MONEY!!). Trust us when we tell you you’re not paying double for the products that go into your remodeling project, and you’re getting far superior quality.
4. We’re Not Going to Land you on “Holmes on Homes”
With all the home remodeling-gone-wrong shows flying around on HGTV, A&E, TLC and DIY Network, to name a few, it’s a miracle any of us home remodeling contractors are even still in business! Sure, there are fly-by-night remodeling contractors out there who will take you for a ride and leave you in the cold (sometimes literally), but most of us GCs are out to run a quality business with longevity and will be relying on referrals from you homeowners to help us achieve that. How can you avoid a shotty home remodeling contractor? The best way is to look for a general contractor with an established business and NOT just a truck, that has a storefront, showroom, office or designated meeting center they encourage you to visit and spend time in. As remodeling contractors, we’re in the business of designing and building beautiful spaces – so why should our own be an exception?? You’d never go to a dentist with rotted, falling-out teeth…so why should your home remodeling contractor be any different? Do just a little bit of homework about the company you’re considering using for your remodeling or home improvement project, and common sense will land you with a good one.
3. Our Experience with Remodeling-Specific Vendors is Worth More than you Think
As professionals with real-life experience in the home remodeling industry, we’ve had our go-round with the best – and the worst – suppliers and companies in our industry. Of course it’s tempting to try to save a few bucks by “shopping around”, particularly when it comes to remodeling products you can purchase at your localhome improvement store, but please, PLEASE don’t disregard our vendors when it comes to your remodeling project. Not only are we comfortable working with the people and products associated with our vendors, but we wouldn’t call them “Partners” and bring them into your home if we weren’t 100% confident in their ability to deliver the same quality we would in our own home. A good remodeling contractor will have long-standing relationships with the vendors the introduce to your remodel, and you’ll likely hear many of us GCs talk about using products and services from our Vendor Partners in our own homes. We won’t steer you wrong when it comes to your remodeling project, and our Vendors play a huge role in helping us deliver a quality finished product.
2. Indecision is a Home Remodeler’s Biggest Enemy
As it’s been said before, we want to get your project done as quickly and efficiently as possible just like you do – but if you can’t make up your mind on what you want, you’re not helping us get your remodeling project done. Although a good general contractor certainly isn’t going to push you to make decisions without thinking them through, you’ll be doing all of us home remodelers a big favor if you have a good idea of what you’re looking for – including details – before you call us. Asgeneral contractors we’ll be able to tell you if something you want isn’t possible, so don’t worry about the logistics of the remodeling project (no seriously, leave that to us), but if you want to be an active decision-maker for the project then do a little homework before. There are thousands of home remodeling websites with content containing information and pictures about remodeling products, services, projects and more, and you’ll be surprised just how much you’ll learn about your own tastes in just a few minutes. If you don’t know where to start, trying typing in things like “Kitchen Remodeling”, “Bathroom Remodeling”, “Custom Home Additions”, “Siding Replacement”, etc into a search engine and see what comes back. As your remodeling contractor we’ll thank you for educating yourself just a little on our industry, and you may even find a new home remodeling contractor in your area you want looking at your project.
1. Home Remodeling is No Different than Anything Else:
You Get What You Pay For
There’s clearly a difference between a Kia and a Lexus, and home remodeling isn't any different. Beyond the leather seats, navigation system and Bose surround, the guts of the cars are different too – and anyone who’s been stuck on the side of the road on a rainy night with car trouble knows just how valuable quality workmanship can be. Think of the leather seats and navigation system as your granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Sure, you can get both of those upgrades in a Kia, but…you’ll still be driving around in a Kia. Conversely, lose the leather seats and a few other Lexus luxuries, and you’ll still be driving around in a great car (though it may say “Toyota” on the front). Home remodeling is the same way when it comes to cost vs value. Whether you opt for upgrades like granite in your kitchen, tile in your bathroom and James Hardie’s luxury Artisan siding as part of your home remodeling project is up to you – but the quality of workmanship underneath the upgrades remains the same. If you’re considering a home remodeling project (especially if it’s something sizeable like a custom home addition), do your homework and find a remodeling contractor who can deliver you a Lexus quality product - even if you’re only in the market for a Toyota. As a quality general contractor we’ll develop a relationship with you, educate you about the process and won’t leave you stranded by the road at night, or ever. So think about that when you’re reviewing your estimates, and make sure when making your decision you’re choosing a home remodeling contractor…not a price.