It may not LOOK like Spring…but, now is the time to schedule Spring projects. If you wait until Spring, you may find that the best time for your project is already booked. If timing is an issue for any reason, you should contact your contractor sooner rather than later.
Before contacting a contractor, you should have a good idea of three planning essentials:
1. Scope of the project
Whether you want a new roof, a new kitchen, or a big addition, decide ahead of time exactly what it is that you want. Are you re-roofing the main house or just the ell or both? Does the kitchen remodel include a new floor and new window in addition to cabinets and sink? Will the addition be a single room or a suite?
For larger projects, it’s always good to have a sketch ready, if you don’t already have plans from an architect or engineer. If you don’t, the contractor should be able to help you determine what level of detail you need.
Will the project need a plumber, electrician, or other trade specialist?
Are there landscaping issues? Buried power or sewer lines to avoid? Wide pine boards you want to use? Or get rid of? Think of all possible wrinkles.
Will you do the finish painting yourself? Hire a decorator? These are all questions the contractor will want to have answered.
The most important milestones are how early you can start and when you want it done. It’s always a good idea to set a deadline and have it written into the contract.
The contractor will also need to know if there are dates when they won’t be able to work because of some previously planned event. Or if you’ll be away at any time during the work period. And can they work on weekends or only weekdays?
Remember that the contractor’s schedule will have to mesh with yours – another reason to get on the schedule early! Some compromising may be necessary here.
Yes, you should set a budget ahead of time. It will affect what suppliers and products the contractor considers when preparing the estimate and bid. You may have to adjust the budget to get everything you want in your project, or you may have to adjust the timetable so that certain items are completed in a second phase of work, but never start with a blank check!
Now that you know what you’re going to do, when you want it, and how much you can afford, finish your search for a contractor. (Admit it, you were so excited you almost called one up two days after you decided to remodel.)
The Internet and the Yellow Pages can provide names, but be sure to check them out.
• Go to each contractor’s web site and look for testimonials and samples of work. Also look for insurance and trade certifications, if they apply.
• Contact your local Better Business Bureau for ratings.
• If you’ve used a plumber or electrician who did good work for you, ask who they know and what they’ve heard.
• Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations.
• If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for references.
Never forget that this is a business arrangement. You’re looking for a skilled, experienced contractor who is also good at customer service. Keep that in mind as you consider the different estimates and make the final choice.
It pays to be careful with something as important as your home!