Okay, let’s get this out of the way up front:
We’re a remodeling company. But we didn’t write this blog as a thinly veiled list of reasons to choose us. (There are plenty of articles like that on the internet already.)
Instead, we wanted to offer up some pointers that would actually be helpful if you’re looking for a remodeler and need guidance evaluating your options.
We asked ourselves: what advice would we give a friend or family member who’s planning a remodeling project, but lives outside our service area?
For starters, evaluate the contractor’s track record.
There are several ways to do this. You might start with a quick Google search to check out customer reviews on platforms like Google and Facebook.
From there, move onto their website and social media accounts. Pay attention to the projects in their portfolio. Are there any similar to the job you have in mind? Do you see examples of homes that are comparable to your own? Styling that aligns with your aesthetic?
See what you can learn about the history and makeup of the company. If they’ve been around for decades, they’re probably a safer bet than a firm that’s just starting out.
While you’re on their site, try to get a gauge of the company size. Would you prefer to work with a smaller, family-owned company? Or are you drawn to the capabilities of a larger firm?
The best way to evaluate a contractor’s track record is to speak with a few recent clients.
If you have any personal contacts who’ve worked with the company, ask them first. If you don’t, ask the contractor for several references—and call them up!
Of course no contractor is going to put you in touch with a bunch of unsatisfied customers. So it’s up to you to ask the right kinds of questions. For example, ask the homeowner about something that didn’t go so well during the process. Were there any breakdowns in communication or challenges with subcontractors? While it’s important to hear what they loved about working with the contractor, you want to get the fuller picture.
Remember that communication is everything.
As you narrow down contenders, you’ll want to meet with a few in person to discuss your project in detail. In these meetings, pay close attention to how the remodeler communicates.
- Do they ask good questions and listen well?
- Do they seem genuinely interested in your ideas and project goals?
- Are they able to articulate their process?
- Does it feel like they’re rushing the conversation along?
A good contractor will want to walk through your space. They’ll want to hear about your vision, and they’ll ask thoughtful questions about your needs. If the contractor seems disinterested, inattentive, or remotely pushy, that’s a big red flag. Because once you sign that contract, they probably won’t become more attentive or considerate.
Look for collaboration and flexibility.
It can be hard to gauge how collaborative and flexible a contractor will be before the project is actually underway. At this stage, the best thing you can do is ask them directly. Ask them if they take a collaborative approach with their clients—and when they inevitably say they do, ask what that usually looks like.
Be sure to ask how they handle instances when homeowners change their minds mid-project. Of course, no one ever plans on changing their plans. But sometimes, as you see things start to take shape, a great idea dawns on you. And you should have confidence that your contractor will be able to pivot with you.
Know that “bargains” usually aren’t.
Although it can be tempting, it is imperative that you don’t just default to the lowest bidder. Low-price remodelers typically achieve those prices by hiring the cheapest subcontractors they can find to do the job. This leads to subpar work—and often, timelines that get pushed further and further back as the project goes on.
We’re not saying that budget isn’t important. But the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds especially true when it comes to remodeling your home.
You might even say that you pay for what you don’t pay for. Because often, you’ll have to put that money you saved up front toward surprise upcharges later on in the project. (Or toward pesky fixes and repairs down the road.)
On the other hand, a reputable contractor who charges a bit more is often working with a small, trusted network of subcontractors who’ve proven themselves time and time again. Avoiding “bargains” is a great way to steer clear of short-term frustration—and long-term disappointment.
We hope these tips prove helpful in your search, wherever you happen to live.
And if you’re in southeastern PA, western New Jersey, northern Maryland, or northern Delaware, we’d love to connect and hear more about your vision.
No matter where you’re located or who you go with, we wish you all the best with your project!