The following discussion is not meant to replace the basics in choosing a remodeler, but to help you go beyond the basics in your selection process.
The Right Company for You
Choosing the right professionals is more than just finding the remodeler or decorator with the lowest price. It is even more important that the company you choose to work with is the right company for you.
There have been a number of articles written and various publications that tell you how to choose a remodeler. In this article the focus will be on choosing the remodeler who is right for you so that you, your family and your home will have a positive experience. Yes, I said “your home”. Depending on the project you plan, the life, health and safety of your home may be one of the most important considerations in choosing a professional remodeler.
Obviously you want contractors who are licensed and insured. In addition to these criteria, there are other requirements that contractors must adhere to. The recently enacted national EPA law on lead has been put in place to ensure the health of those who have potential lead issues in their homes. Be sure to ask if your potential remodeler has been trained in lead abatement and is EPA certified. In addition to checking for licensing and EPA certification, finding a contractor who is a member of a professional association such as the GHBA tells you that this contractor has gone beyond the basics and has joined a professional association that upholds a code of ethics and supports continuing education.
It is important that you are fully aware of the differences between contractors. Unfortunately there are still those who ignore the rules because it is easier and cheaper to do so. People tend to think that nothing can happen so why worry. But the big question is what if something does go wrong. The other question to ask yourself is if the contractor is ignoring the law what else might they be ignoring. It is important that you realize you have very little protection if you do hire an unlicensed or uninsured contractor.
Life and Death
I often ask myself why someone would risk their most important investment by hiring the cheapest contractor. I will go so far as to say selecting the right remodeler may actually be a matter of life and death, the life and death of your home that is. Following are two examples of what can happen when something goes wrong.
In a recent conversation with a client I was reminded of a home remodeling tragedy I heard about two decades ago. At that time, the story was shocking. In fact it is still shocking – what is worse is this type of thing still happens.
The original tragedy involved a family in upstate NY who decided to remodel their home by first enlarging their basement. To make the basement usable, it was determined that two feet needed to be dug out. To gain access to the basement, the contractor needed to lift and move the house. Unfortunately, in the process of moving the house, they dropped it. Yes, you read right. They dropped the house. If this doesn’t sound bad enough, it gets worse. The contractor was not insured. Fortunately for this family of five, they were part of a church community which helped them find temporary housing, while their house was put back together. It took over a year to put the house back together.
The recent tragedy was reported to me by a client from the mid-west. He had been disappointed that he had not been chosen for a particular project. The homeowners wanted to save some money, so they chose the low bidder. Recently my client was in the area and decided to drive by to see how the project was going. He was shocked and quite dismayed to see that the house had collapsed. Although he doesn’t know the details of what happened, he was told by their architect that the couple had to move to an apartment.
As I was thinking about these two situations, I had to ask myself, why would anyone want to leave such an important decision and valuable asset to chance? You are probably thinking that would never happen to you; let’s hope it doesn’t, but let’s also take an ounce of prevention.
Do it right the first time
You may be thinking that your project is small and there is no way you could end up with a collapsed house. The worst that can happen is probably proportionate to the size of the project. While this may be true, remember you may have to look at a poorly done renovation for years or until you decide to have the job redone. I have had clients tell me that they are doing a bathroom or a kitchen for someone who had the same project done within the last few years. I’m sure that you would rather do your project right the first time, instead of having to do it twice.
Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting. Ideal has been providing business consulting, coaching, and training of small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. Lorraine has been writing and managing content for numerous organizations for over 25 years. She is a national member of NARI and contributor to its national blog. She is also a regular contributor to Remodeling Today and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. On top of all that, Lorraine is also a member of the GHBA, the Remodelers Council, Custom Builders Council, and the Bay Area Builders.