Home renovations are an exciting prospect. They’re a way to express creativity, explore different styles, and bring yourself one step closer to the home you’ve always wanted. Magazines and TV shows give plenty of inspiration, helping you to visualize the changes you’ll make.
But as you begin to think seriously about home renovation, the practical side comes into sharper focus. Who will you hire to make your renovations a reality, and how exactly will you make that decision? The truth is, there are many pitfalls during this stage of the process. When it comes to getting real and hiring a contractor, it helps to know about the common mistakes people make.
1. Not knowing what you want
Although a home renovation company can give you suggestions on your project and guide you towards practical solutions, it’s important to have a clear idea what you want ahead of time. Too many homeowners contact renovators with vague and abstract ideas, which makes it more difficult to get accurate quotes and time frames. This can also lead to the project becoming far bigger than you intended.
Before you begin, consider acquiring blueprints for the work you want. When you develop a clear idea of the major changes you want, it’s much easier to deal with contractors and find one who understands your vision.
2. Not planning ahead
If you want to hire the best company, you’ll need to plan ahead. The best home renovation contractors are likely busy, and will need to be booked in advance. It might even take a few days to get a call back. A small delay is fine – it means the contractor is giving careful attention to the work they’re currently doing. But if you’re waiting several days for a call back, the contractor in question may not be a good communicator. When you’re investing thousands of dollars in home renovation, timely communication is key.
Another important part of the planning phase is to cultivate multiple options. Many people only contact one or two specialists before signing a contract, which often leads to a less-than-ideal choice. Try to meet with a number of contractors in person, collecting estimates and gauging the overall level of professionalism. This allows you to make a careful, deliberate choice.
3. Always choosing the lowest bid
Budget is a concern with any home renovation, but results are more important. Always get multiple quotes on a job so you have an idea of what it should cost. You can ask others who have renovated what their costs were. If a bid is much lower than the others, it could mean that the company 1) doesn’t understand the scope of the job, 2) uses inferior materials and workmanship, or 3) plans to raise your costs once a contract has been signed. Keep in mind that quality work may cost more—but it also brings a higher return on your investment.
4. Not checking the home renovation company’s background
Always seek current references and testimonials before you sign on. Find a qualified licensed professional that will ensure your safety and theirs. Affiliation with the BBB and other professional organizations is a good sign. Check with your local building inspector about which companies are known for doing things right. Also, make sure the contractor is licensed and insured! Too many homeowners end up with poorly qualified contractors because they failed to check the contractor’s background.
5. Not having a contract
Your relationship with any home renovation specialist should always be based on a detailed, written contract. Starting work without a contract is a common mistake that almost always leads to big trouble. Make sure that any guarantees you were given verbally are clear and present in the written contract. Insurance and other logistics should be there too. Established, reputable renovators will have standard contracts and will be able to quickly address any doubts or concerns you may have.
Finding success with your home renovation
Paying attention to the common mistakes is one of the best ways to find a quality home renovation contractor who meets your needs. A careful and deliberate research process will prevent problems down the road, and will ultimately lead to better results and greater success in your home renovation efforts.
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