If you surveyed American homeowners on the most important purchases and investments they make in life, what do you think comes to mind? Obviously things like buying a home, a car, and saving for the kids’ college education are some of the biggest expenditures. Renovating a home is also on the list. For most homeowners, this is a multi-dimensional investment. The goal is to improve quality of life at home, but also to improve market value and market appeal for a future sale or refinancing process. In other words, renovating the home is often as much about building equity as it is about improving your current lifestyle.
Whatever your combination of reasons for considering home renovations, it’s not something to be taken lightly. You want to think carefully about the exact renovations you want, and consider alternatives you might not have realized were possible. By the time you settle on final plans, you want to know that you’ve considered every angle and found the best possible ways to meet your goals.
1. Is the contractor experienced?
Anyone can throw out a number and say they’ve been in business for 15 or 20 years. This is better than nothing – but when you ask about your contractor’s experience, what you really want to know is whether they have a wealth of experience doing the kind of work you need done. Let’s say you plan to renovate your kitchen. Can your contractor tell you approximately how many kitchen renovations they’ve done? Can they show you photos and testimonials that demonstrate a successful track record?
2. Is this the best investment right now?
There are home renovations that feel exciting and even glamorous, and there are projects that feel drab and boring. The boring ones tend to be the most necessary, however. For instance, if your roof is in tough shape, or if your siding could really use an upgrade, investing in renovated bathrooms or a brand new kitchen may not be the best use of your home renovation investment. Sometimes the right call is the tough call – but when the project is finished, you want to continue feeling that you made the right decision. So think carefully about what projects matter most right now.
2. Is that a ‘bid’ or an ‘estimate’?
When the cost of the project isn’t fully and properly established up front, homeowners end up frustrated with home renovation contractors. Often times, what you thought was a firm bid turned out to be an estimate – and the cost rises as the project gets underway. This is never an ideal state of affairs. If your contractor doesn’t make the pricing absolutely clear, it’s important to ask for clarity. If you still aren’t getting the answers you need, this isn’t a company worth dealing with.
The next generation of home renovators
As home renovation has evolved over time, the skill and professionals of home renovation contractors has also evolved. The materials and techniques that are available today have created countless new possibilities; but it’s not just about finding a flashy new contractor who makes big promises. Experience, training, and a long track record of successful renovations are the keys to finding a truly reputable home renovator.