Top 10 Tips to Choose a Builder and Work Well Together Part I

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Follow these 10 tips to have a successful and low-stress experience during your next remodeling or renovation project.

Everyone you talk to seems to have a horror story about a building project gone wrong. Perhaps some unscrupulous remodelers tore apart a room and then abandoned the job. Or maybe they experienced budget creep where new expenses kept popping up unexpectedly. Although many people these negative experiences, you can increase your odds of signing a contract with reputable builders and having the work completed smoothly, on time, and within the initial budget. If you want to increase your chances of this happening, communication is the key.

Build a strong foundation with the professional builder and the rest of the project will be a breeze.

Mid Century Modern Ranch

Tip #1 – Do not look for a builder until you have your plan in place.

Whenever you consider a construction, renovation, or remodeling project, you might think the first person to approach is a builder, but this is not always true.

The builder is responsible for turning your plan into reality and can only give you an educated estimate on the price if he knows what your plan is. If you give general statements about building a garage or remodeling a bathroom, he can only give you an estimate designed to make you hire him. Drawings and other detailed information are necessary for an accurate quote.

The best time to find a professional builder to handle your project is after you have plans drawn up and a detailed list of what will and will not end up in the final project. This is an important step that leads to more accurate budgeting and prevents unpleasant and expensive surprises down the road.

Holly St

Tip #2 – Choose a building company with a focus on your type of project.

Just as in any other career path, builders and contractors specialize. One company may focus on industrial construction while another works primarily with retail establishments. Even among residential builders, there can be a large difference from one to the next. If you are looking for a basic remodeling of a small space, you probably would not want to choose an outfit famous for their luxury mansion renovations. Not only will they be much more expensive than you want to pay, but they may make the process more complicated as they try to sell you top end upgrades on the things you neither need nor want.

On the other hand, a smaller, local builder may not have the office organization and multi-focus crew of the larger company, but they may be much more affordable. In general, large building firms may be more expensive but also more organized and able to complete projects in a shorter amount of time. If you find a professional builder who provides top-quality work and materials at an affordable price quickly, count yourself extremely lucky.

You need to look objectively at the building project you want to be done and decide what type of company suits it best. Also decide if you are more willing to give up money, time, or project organization to get it done. Most of these qualities can be researched prior to choosing a builder by reading reviews of former customers online.

Pasadena Showcase House of Design 2014

Tip #3 – Is a specialist required or will a general contractor work?

General contractors and builders tackle so many different types of projects successfully that specialists are rarely needed unless you are asking for something so out of the ordinary that it has rarely been seen in any other project.

A standard quality builder can handle any job from an attic conversion to finishing a basement. You might find a specialty builder that focuses only on transforming these areas of the home into comfortable living spaces, but they would be more apt to charge more than a general builder. The more unique a job appears to be, the more it will cost in many cases.

The same holds true for buying materials or parts of the home like doors and windows. Of course, there are plenty of companies that specialize in glass or marble for countertops. Instead of going out and finding them all on your own, use your professional builder to locate the best for you and to handle all of the logistics and organization to get your project done right. This leaves you with less footwork, less expensive, and less stress to deal with.

2016 Artisan Home Tour

Tip #4 – Consider using multiple contractors with different specialties. 

On the other hand, if you have the time and inclination to do some research, you may actually save money by finding separate contractors for individual parts of the renovation or remodeling job. For example, hiring your own electrician for a new room may give you a lower bill and peace of mind that it is done correctly. Things like windows, wall-to-wall carpeting, and HVAC systems are frequently handled by specific companies.

In most cases, and especially in those where the homeowners work full-time, finding different subcontractors and tradespeople, going over all the different contracts, staying organized, and making sure the entire project stays on schedule is too challenging a job for the homeowner. When you hire a respected, experienced, and professional general contractor, all of those tasks are taken out of your hands. For his contacts and expertise at managing a building job, the contractor will get a percentage of the others profits. However, this money is well-earned as even the simplest building project requires quite a bit of maintaining order and management.

Highland Terrace

Tip #5 – Be prepared to collect multiple bids.

Whether you are using one general contractor to handle the subcontractors or finding separate specialists yourself, you may not get the best price unless you accept multiple bids from different companies and individuals. These bids must include specific lists of what all the money is going for. This helps you compare one company’s labor charges against another and see discrepancies in material costs or extras added on you did not ask for.

I recommend getting 3 to 5 different bids from various builders in your area. When you receive them all back, you may be surprised to see how much they differ. This highlights the necessity of getting multiple bids to begin with. However, contractors and builders are busy people and writing up a detailed estimate takes quite a while to do well. If you asked for an estimate from five, 10, or even more companies, all you are doing is wasting not only their time but also time that could be spent actually completing your project.

Top 10 Tips to Choose a Builder and Work Well Together. Part II

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