Here are some important things to know before you hire a general contractor or anyone else for your remodel.
You have saved all your kitchen photos of what you like and maybe even picked up a couple counter top or flooring samples. Your so overly ready to get that old kitchen out and enjoy your new beautiful kitchen. Its time to get this project started! Then you ask yourself “should I call a designer, architect, draftsman, engineer, cabinet company, countertop guy or a general contractor?”
Unexperienced homeowners will start calling everyone which can be helpful and hurtful at the same time. Although they get knowledge from several trades it is often without considering the other trades that intertwine. Remodel costs, schedule and length of time your home will be under construction and the quality of the final product come from the general contractor. Experienced remodelers and homeowners almost always select their general contractor as their first team member. The general contractor can help advise on design vs cost from the start. Together you can decide if you need an engineer, architect, draftsman and or an interior designer. They would help you weigh design cost, timeline, design vs cost. This will assure you are not hiring an engineer if you don’t need one, paying architects cost if you just need a draftsman or if you need help with the design selection.
The general contractor would understand the structural options when removing or opening up walls. They can advise you on what option is cheaper and what other trades each choice may affect and potential costs. This means you are not designing something you can’t afford or don’t want to pay for.
Tips on selecting a general contractor that is right for your project
- Start with writing down the best description of what you would like to remodel with as many details as possible. Collect any pictures or literature and make copy “sets”. This way you start out in the same exact place with each general contractor you meet. This allows for a better comparison with fresh unique thoughts.
- Make sure that the contractors you are calling out to meet with are all or the same caliber by checking their online references and talking to them on the phone about the project, size and location.
- Meet in person at the project site to discuss your vision. This will also allow you to get to know their personality, experience, their ideas about your project and their references.
- After you have meet with usually about 3 general contractors you should check their references.
- Check their license on the California State Contractor License Board
- Make sure they have Liability Insurance
Why is it important to discuss the budget?
I know it almost sounds crazy to tell someone you are going to hire exactly how much money you are willing to pay, right? Here is why you should feel comfortable being very upfront and having a clear budget. The project costs generally drive everything on a project. Even people that have more than enough to afford their remodel it doesn’t mean they want to waste or throw money away. The added value vs home value is very important, you would not put the same kitchen in a $500,000 home as you would in a $5 million dollar home. You also do not want to design and select products that will add up and blow the budget or make the project unaffordable. They can make recommendations such as if you remove that wall it will take the project over budget or if there is a way to save the money from another area to stay on budget. You should alway start a project with a contingency for any project unknowns or changes.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than working with an Architect or Designer for months only to put the project out to bid and its twice as much as what you started out to spend. This can not only waste money but time as well its heartbreaking because as you worked on details for so long you were almost standing in your new remodel several times along the way and now you are starting from the beginning.