Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor – Pt 3

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Our series continues this week with questions 5 and 6. Bob talks about using your home remodeling contractors build services or your own architect’s plans, plus the remodeling plan and budgeting.


Hi everybody. Bob Gallese with One Man and a Hammer and Last week we covered number three and four of the top ten questions you should ask a home remodeling contractor.

Number three was: Do you use subcontractors, or do you employ tradesmen? And number four was: Do I have to put down structure of payments and permits? If you’ve kind of forgotten some of that information, you can always go back and review that if you would like.

This week I want to talk about a two more things, two more items, number five and number six. Number five being: Will the remodeler provide design/build services, or build from your architect’s plans or will they work?

When you are getting to the point where you’re getting serious about getting a remodeling project done, you have to do one or two things for yourself. The biggest thing that you want to do for yourself is make sure that you have a plan that every contractor is working from. If you go out there and you hire, well you bring in three or four contractors to give you a price, you want to make sure they’re basing their price on the same basis. You don’t want one contractor putting together or composing an estimate based on what he thinks should be done and then contractor number two putting together a proposal based on what he thinks should be done and on and on and on. That’s just not going to work.

If you think about it, a home or any building is never built without some type of blueprint, without some type of sketch, or something, and that’s the same way especially in the home remodeling industry. You want to make sure that everybody is starting from the same playing field, because trying to compare estimates apples to apples is very difficult to do when you do it without some type of drawing or sketch.

Now, when you go to a remodeler, they do not have a design or building service, or design/build is what they’re called — One Man and a Hammer is a design/build service — but if your contractor that you invited in does not have a design service, make sure that you have some kind of sketch on what you’re looking for and have some basis of what you want to do with the job and what type of materials you want to use.

Then, number six is: How can I be sure that the remodeler will build what was agreed upon and within budget? Well, that’s some of the problem in this industry is that, in many cases, you can’t be sure that they’re going to build what was agreed upon and within budget.

Why is that? Well, some contractors don’t do things, don’t follow a process, or don’t have a system, quite frankly, in order, and that’s what you want to make sure is going to happen. That starts with the proposal. Everything is itemized. But you want to make sure that the remodeler is going to build what was agreed upon and within the budget.

You’ve got to make sure that, number one, as far as the budget goes, that all of the allowances are reasonable. You really can’t buy a lavatory faucet for $40. Well, I guess you can, but it’s not something I would want in my home, and I’m assuming it’s not something you want in your home. You really can’t buy a shower valve or a tub valve for $70. You want to make sure the allowances are real. That’s going to help control the budget.

There’s always those instances when you tear down walls in a bathroom or you remove kitchen cabinets and have to remove a wall, there’s always those instances that you’re going to find mold or some wiring back there, or when you tear down a soffit in a kitchen, there’s some plumbing that has to be moved. That’s always going to happen, which is why you should always make sure that you budget about 15% to 20% more than what’s on that proposal. If you don’t spend it, everybody’s happy, especially you the homeowner. But if you need it, you’ve already kind of counted on it.

So making sure that all the t’s are crossed, all of the i’s are dotted in the proposal is important. Just make sure you work with a professional contractor, and I think that the job is going to go a lot smoother. Don’t accept a vague proposal with just bullet items, an itemized list of, okay, we’re going to remove this, remove that, put this in, put that in. You don’t want that. You want allowances.

All right folks, next week we’re going to get to number seven and number eight of the top ten questions you should ask a home remodeling contractor, and I think this is all going to start coming together for you. See you then.

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