Hiring a Remodeling Contractor? Here are 12 Things to Know

If you’re looking to remodel your home, then a formidable relationship with your contractor is vital. The key to establishing this type of relationship is making sure you and your contractor are on the same page.

One way to do this is to understand things from a contractor’s perspective. Here, we cover 12 essential things to know when hiring a remodeling contractor.

Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

1. Don’t Get Multiple Quotes Unless You Do This

Getting quotes from multiple contractors is common advice but it can get you in trouble if those quotes are not from similar contractors.

Contractors tend to speciailize. New construction is different from remodeling which is different than handyman work. Trying to compare a kitchen remodel quote from a Design Build Remodeling Company to a quote from a contractor who works out of his home and mostly does decks and wood rot repair will be very difficult.

Make sure you are comparing quotes from contractors who provide a simliar level of service and who specialize in the type of work you want done. Just like you would not want an airplane mechanic working on your new Mercedes you don’t want a contractor who specializes in siding and additions to remodel your kitchen or bath.

So, ask around and compare your options, but only if those options provide similar services.

2. Your Budget is Probably Not Your Budget

It’s always a great idea to set aside a certain amount of money for your remodeling project. However, once your contractor gets started, certain costs may be more than what you planned for. 

So, make sure your budget is flexible and can handle unexpected costs. A general rule of thumb is to set aside an additional 10-15% of what you originally budgeted for. 

For example, if you anticipate your kitchen remodeling project will cost around $80,000, budget for an extra $8-15,000 as a contingency. 

3. Patience Usually Wins

If you watch HGTV shows, they might give you the impression that you have to be agressive with your contractor to get what you want. Maybe that’s true for bad contractors but for true professionals, patience and understanding will get you a lot further.

There are bound to be some delays or mishaps, remodeling in complciated after all, but adding aggravtion by yelling or demanding things be resolved immediatly will often only lead to bad feelngs and worse service. 

There are a number of unexpected issues that can arise with your home remodeling project. What if there is bad weather? What if the tile guy’s kid gets sick and he has to stay home with them? What if you find unexpected mold, rot, asbestos, or termite damage during your kitchen remodel? Delays, both big and small, are to be expected. What helps yu get back on track is how you (and your contractor) deal with these delays together.

So, sometimes your contractor will have to make adjustments to the original schedule. Therefore, you should always be prepared for these changes when hiring a remodeling contractor.

4. Be Wary of Allowances

It might come as a suprise but many contractors will not include accurate material costs in their quote. Some might include ‘Allowances” for materials in their quote but generally they keeps these allowances low in order to make their price look low.

For example the contractor might give you an allowance of $9000 for cabinets. But when you actually get to design and look at cabinet pricing you will realize that only the very cheapest cabinets on the market will meet that allowance. From your contractors point of view the cheapest cabinets might be fine, but you might have a different perspective. 

The best contractors will provide you a quote that line items all materials and they will sit down with you and show you the difference between “good” “better” and “best” options. 

You also want to be clear about who is providing the materials. Some contractors will assume that you will buy all materials and have them on site ready for them to install. Other contractors will not only provide all materials but will also have designers on staff to help you select them. 

Providing your own materials might seem like a good way to save money but it can also be risky. If you choose the wrong material or buy the wrong amount it can delay the project and lead to increased costs. You will also be responsible for any warranty issues for materials you provide.

5. We Don’t Care If Your ‘Uncle Joe’ Does Tile

There’s nothing more valuable to a contractor than their network of tradesmen. This means that they’ve likely established a relationship with others in their field. 

Therefore, it’s best to let your remodeling contractor choose who will do the installations, as this will streamline the whole remodeling process. Think about it, if you were at work, would you get a project finished quicker with a veteran coworker, or someone you just met that day? We think the answer is obvious. 

6. Don’t Hover

No one likes to feel like someone is watching them while they’re doing their job. Contractors are no different. It’s okay to check in with your construction team on a regular basis, as it is your home being remodeled and your money being spent. However, if you want to get the best out of your contractor, its best to have understood boundaries in your relationship. 

Asking questions and even dropping by to check in are more than acceptable! If you aren’t sure what questions to ask your contractor take a look at our list of good questions to ask your contractor here. But as we can all relate to, being constantly micromanaged can lead to delays, short tempers, and communication breakdowns. So, leave them to do the work you hired them to do. 

7. Changing Your Mind Is Expensive

You might change your mind about certain aspects of your remodel. For example, you might want a different appliance or cabinetry finish than you originally planned.

If this is the case, be sure to notify your contractor as soon as possible. Even though changes can set your project back quite a bit, lettting your remodeling contractor know as soon as possible will streamline the process of you getting exactly what you want.

The most important thing to remember is that you probably will change your mind if you dont have a firm plan in place during the design process. That’s why hiring a remodeling contractor that has a well thought out design process is crucial.

8. Reusing Old Materials Can Be Difficult

There’s nothing wrong with trying to reuse and repurpose certain materials. But in some cases, this can make your contractor’s job more difficult and cause complications. 

For example, imagine that you’re trying to reuse old cabinets. It’s possible that they could tear apart when trying to remove them even though they stayed intact the entire time you’ve had them up. 

So, unfortunately, it’s not easy to remove and reuse certain materials. Rather than saving you money, reusing materials could end up costing you more in the long run. 

9. Understand What Success Looks Like

When measuring the success of your remodeling project, it’s not about how well you were able to avoid running into issues. Instead, it’s about how well your remodeling contractor was able to curb those problems. 

You won’t know every issue that comes with remodeling your home until you actually do it. So, surprises are bound to happen. It’s just a matter of being able to work with your contractor to properly address these surprises.

At the beginning of the project be clear with your contractor what your expectations are. If you expect a perfectly clean jobsite every day than make sure he knows that (and be prepared to pay extra for it). If you expect zero delays then express that to them early. Mismatched expectations are what lead to most project failures.

10. Your Contractor Isn’t Prolonging Your Project on Purpose

Sometimes, jobs take longer than expected to complete. This just comes with the territory of remodeling. Even though some contractors might be that deceitful, it isn’t the norm. 

In most cases, if your contractor is taking longer to finish their work than originally planned, it’s likely because something got in the way. For example, a crumbling wall, permit delays, or supply chain delays can set any contractor behind schedule.

11. Doing Part of the Work Doesn’t Always Save You Money

Unless you have the experience and skills to correctly complete specific projects, doing it yourself can often do more harm than good. For example, ordering materials or performing some of the labor work yourself could cause schedule delays, or even require the whole project to be redone.

You could end up ordering the wrong parts or make a costly mistake on a project (read abour the top DIY Mistakes here). As a result, your contractor would have to go back and fix these issues, which can postpone your schedule. It could also cost you more money than you were trying to save in the first place. 

12. Always Ask Questions

You’ll likely have plenty of questions when it comes to home remodeling. For example, how long will it take? How much will it cost? What are the best materials? The list goes on. 

There will likely be times during the project when you need clarification. So, don’t hesitate to let your contractor know that you’d like them to explain what they’re doing or why they made a particular decision.  

It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what your contractor wants and how they perform their job. That way, you know what to expect when your remodel is in full swing. 

However, you may not know what questions to ask when hiring a remodeling contractor. You can’t know what you don’t know, so here is a list of some questions from pods.com to help you get started!

13. BONUS! Let Us Help You Get Started

We know that hiring a remodeling contractor can be hard. It IS our business after all. So If you have any questions for us about your upcoming project, Please click the link here to get in contact!

Ready to Remodel?

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a design and build company specializing in kitchen and bath remodels.

McManus Kitchen & Bath

Phone: (850) 354-8090

Email: hello@mcmanuskb.com

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