Creative design, top-line workmanship, and quality materials – these are the things that define a successful remodeling project. When it comes to selecting a remodeling contractor, however, it is important to remember that time-tested adage that you “get what you pay for.” Said another way, professional remodeling results demand a professional remodeling contractor.
Balancing Vision and Budget
It is a rare project that has an unlimited budget. Balancing the goals of the project against a realistic budget can be difficult. Indeed, the complexities of a top-notch job may by unachievable at the lowest possible price. With price as a primary focus, it becomes easy to overlook other criteria that may carry more weight in producing a successful project and maintaining a smooth working relationship with the remodeler.
Remodeling contractors do recognize that price is a major consideration. The cost of remodeling has increased as the demand grows. Some of the effects of increased demand include:
- Cost of materials (copper wiring & pipes, asphalt shingles, lumber, etc.)
- Scarcity of skilled labor (completing a complex remodeling project takes a lot of skill)
Remodeling, a national trade publication, reported in its recent Cost vs. Value survey that a typical mid-priced major kitchen remodel costs nearly $54,000 and a typical mid-priced basement remodel runs in the low $60,000 range. The average two-story addition costs over $150,000. Download this report to see more price ranges for various projects and get an idea of what to expect in the Des Moines area.
Remodeling is a Service
Remodeling is not merely a product, it is at its core a service. The relationship between homeowner and remodeler is built on the intangibles that make up the process of remodeling – the process, ongoing communication, and handling of surprises. Eventually everything comes together to culminate in a satisfying experience and an acceptable finished product. The materials and products, the “stuff” of remodeling, do not define a professional job alone.
The nature of remodeling as a service becomes even more pronounced when you consider that inevitably you’ll be sharing your home with the remodelers’ crews for weeks or even months, depending on the scale of the project. All remodeling involves some degree of inconvenience, but inconvenience can easily turn into a nightmare if your remodeler doesn’t put your family’s comfort and concerns first. Homeowners trust us with the keys to their house and invite us into their lives for the duration of the project. A professional remodeler takes that responsibility seriously.
Selecting a Professional Remodeler
Rather than selecting a remodeler based on the bottom line “price” comparison, the key to a successful project is shifting your focus to finding a professional remodeler; then go about getting a bid on your job. If the bid is higher than what you budgeted, work with the remodeler to make scope and phasing decisions that respect the budget without sacrificing the underlying goals. For example, you can always have the remodeler install wiring for a future home automation system to be added later. You can’t upgrade the company’s customer service if there wasn’t any to begin with.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) suggests some important characteristics you should incorporate into your decision-making process:
Experience – Ask how long the remodeler has been in business. Longevity suggests financial stability, which is necessary for the remodeler to finish the job and still be available if problems crop up after the job is completed. Also, the more jobs the company has completed, the more expertise the remodeler will bring to your project and the hidden surprises that remodeling typically entails.
Reputation – Look to the remodelers’ former and current customers to gauge the company’s reputation. Obtain the names and phone numbers of customers you can call to get their impressions of the company’s work and customer service. Call them and make personal visits to see the work they had done. You can also look into websites like www.houzz.com, www.angieslist.com, and with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org/iowa to search for online reviews and project photos.
Business Credentials – A good place to start your search for a remodeler is with the local Remodelers Council (www.remodeldesmoines.com) which is a part of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines. Groups like these help to keep their members informed about new products, construction techniques, business practices and industry issues. Participation demonstrates a remodeler’s commitment to professionalism and to the remodeling industry. Many trade groups also confer professional credentials, such as Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), to those who meet their requirements, which is a positive indicator of the remodeler’s reputation.
Insurance – It is also important to verify that the remodeler carries workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Have the remodeler show you copies of both insurance certificates to protect yourself from liability in situations involving job site injuries or property damage resulting from the work being done on your home.
If your goal is a professional remodeling project, then your best bet is to hire a professional remodeler. Invest in the experience as well as the “stuff” of remodeling.