Let’s face it, contractors have a bad name and homeowner remodeling fears are in abdundance. Almost everyone you talk to has a story that they can share about a horrible contractor experience. There are reality shows that make fortunes showcasing bad contractors. You hear stories on the news about shady unlicensed contractors scamming homeowners. If you are considering remodeling, you need to be an informed consumer. There are good contractors out there!!!
Here are some of the most common remodeling fears and how you can overcome them.
- You won’t get what you want. Disappointment in the finished product is a huge fear of homeowners. You are getting ready to spend a small fortune to remodel and you aren’t sure if you are going to love it after you have spent the money and time to build the new space. The best way to overcome this is to work with a contractor who provides you with a very detailed scope of work, so you can be sure you and your contractor are 100% on the same page. If you are building a major home remodel such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel your contractor should have a detailed design for you to review and sign off on. With 3D images of exactly what will be installed – and where – there leaves no room for errors. If you are painting the exterior of your home or replacing windows, make sure the color selections, materials, and specifications are documented. Anything being installed in your home should have specifications that you can review and sign off on. You might be surprised to learn that more homeowners are disappointed with the process – not the final product – when most remodels are done. That is because they have not properly prepared themselves on what to expect during their remodel. So how do you get past that? Educate yourself on what to expect during the process of remodeling.
- Poor workmanship. This is another level of disappointment homeowners fear when considering a home remodel. Contractors protect you and them with draw schedules. Your final payment should not be made until you and your contractor have agreed that all work has been completed to your satisfaction. At the end of every project your contractor should do a “Final walk” with you for “pick up work” that you may be concerned about. There are “industry standards” which he must oblige to with every trade in your home remodeling project. Construction is a long process that must take place in a specific order, so it is important that you understand when it is time to worry about poor workmanship. Be aware that at your project is not complete until that final walk takes place. This means you might be looking at an unfinished product and think there is poor workmanship, which is just unfinished work. Don’t be afraid to communicate any fears you have with your contractor. In the instance of major remodels such as whole house remodels, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, or home additions you can schedule weekly walk throughs with your contractor, so you can be informed and educated throughout the construction build.
- Fraud. This is perhaps one of the biggest fears homeowners have when preparing to hire a contractor for their remodel. There are ways to avoid working with fraudulent contractors. Verifying their contractor license and insurance is one of the best ways to avoid hiring a fraudulent contractor. Of course, you always want to check out your contractor’s reviews online as well (read through them – don’t just look at the stars!). If youspend some time researching your contractor before you hire him then you will learn a lot about what his clients like – and do not like – about him so you can prepare yourself properly. Be wary of a contractor you cannot find online and make sure you have access to the license holder in some fashion. The contractor (license holder) should be very involved in your project, either on site, or remotely. If you were to call your contractor at any time he should know what is going on with your project. This goes as early as the estimating phase. If you are working with a salesperson, ask to speak with – and be introduced to – the license holder.
- You won’t be charged a fair price. Remodeling is expensive, and most times is at least 3 times as expensive as you initially believe it will be. So being overcharged is a legitimate concern homeowners have. Some homeowners will try to combat that by asking their contractor to provide prices broken down by labor and material. This is not a wise way to try to decipher whether you are being charged a fair price. The only way you can truly determine if your prices are fair is by comparing 3 contractors with the same abilities (learn more about what types of contractors there are, because there are several different types and it does affect their pricing!), same scope of work, and same design.
- The job will take much longer than the contractor promises. The best way to overcome this fear is to manage your expectations by realizing your contractor can not control 100% of your project and understand there may be unexpected delays (weather, labor constraints, inspector delays, material delays, etc). Your contractor should manage your expectations of your remodel timeline and should be within 1-2 weeks of accuracy. The real fear here is loss of control so take some time to learn what you can do to avoid construction delays. While your contractor is building your remodel, you won’t have full control over the schedule and that can be frustrating. In theory you have hired a contractor you trust is a professional and it will be important for you to be open and honest about your expectations, so he can help you through understanding the remodel process and timeline.
- You could do the job cheaper and just as good by yourself. As the reality shows increase homeowners are becoming more and more convinced that they could remodel their home just as quickly and/or cheaper if they did the work themselves – or hired subcontractors themselves. Could this be the case? Possibly – but it depends on the type of project and your level of construction knowledge. We have drafted an article that will hopefully help you decide if it is in your best interest to be an owner-builder. Most homeowners that try to tackle a major remodel (kitchen, bathroom, addition) find out that they have bitten off more than they can chew and ultimately end up hiring a contractor in the end – costing them significant time and money they could have saved if they had hired a contractor to begin with.
Most homeowner fears revolving remodeling involve money, loss of control, disruption to their home life, and possible disappointment. A homeowner who is diligent about educating himself or herself on the process will have less surprises and be less likely to encounter the fears they have. Don’t make common homeowner mistakes……Spend the time to find a contractor you feel confident and comfortable with and educate yourself on the process and you will have a pleasant experience!