For most homeowners, selecting a remodeling contractor who is both competent and reliable can be the hardest part of the home remodeling process. Installing kitchen cabinets, knocking down walls, or laying new floors seems simple when compared with finding a qualified contractor with a stellar reputation. As a contractor might be in your home and around your family for days, weeks, or months while the job is in progress, it’s important to find one you can trust 100 percent.
Selecting the Right Remodeling Contractor
We’ve all heard horror stories about unreliable contractors who promise the moon and stars, tear apart the kitchen or bathroom, and then present you with a bill for an incomplete or incompetent job. Remodeling projects often come with surprises that are revealed as the work progresses, but one of them shouldn’t be that your contractor is not up for the job. Selecting the right remodeling contractor makes all the difference in your remodel’s success. Here are 9 key things to look for when making your decision.
1. Client References
Word-of-mouth referrals are still the most common way for homeowners to find a local remodeler. Leads from relatives, friends, and neighbors are a good place to start. If you’re new to St. Louis, real estate agents, building inspectors, and local home specialty providers, like lumberyards, can offer guidance. Ask about a contractor’s reputation, professional stability, and customer service. The ideal contractor is one whose previous clients consistently rave about their work, confidently recommend them to others, and most importantly, say they would bring them back for all their home improvement needs.
2. Professional Affiliations and Designations
Along with required state and local licenses, find out which professional affiliations and designations a contractor is associated with, such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association and the National Association of Homebuilders. Has the contractor invested in continuing education and/or earned industry-related certifications? Do they belong to support organizations like Remodeler’s Advantage and use productivity software such as Guild Quality, which helps improve service through customer feedback?
3. Community Presence
Local contractor’s who’ve been in business for a long time are usually a safe bet. Even better is a company that also believes in giving back to the community it works in. Contractors who have close and personal relationships with the people they serve tend to be extremely reliable, striving to perform quality works that satisfies their neighbors.
4. Professional Standing
Check with the state’s Consumer Protection Agency and the local BBB to ensure any contractor you’re considering doesn’t have a history of disputes or complaints. Some states require contractors to be licensed, bonded, and/or insured. You can check with your state’s local licensing agencies to make sure the work you want your contractor to do is covered. Look for membership in organizations such as the NKBA and NAHB, as these organizations often have credential and required continuing education programs. For valuable insight into a contractor’s professionalism, take a look at the company’s Houzz reviews.
5. Abides by Codes and Regulations
One of the greatest advantages to hiring a qualified contractor in St. Louis is their familiarity with local building codes and permit requirements. These codes and regulations vary for each city and town and can change from year to year. A contractor who is up-to-date on the rules that apply to your neighborhood is worth his or her weight in gold during the planning of your remodel.
Looking at a contractor’s past projects shows the quality of their work, but it also indicates how many years of industry experience they have. Longevity often implies financial stability, reliability, and expertise.
7. A Standard Process
A contractor’s process is the check and balances that ensures you enjoy a quality home remodeling experience. From initial consultation to final touches, a well-defined process is focused on developing a unique space that meets your individual needs while maximizing your budget. It offers ideas and solutions, such as 3D renderings and visualizations, that transform your home into the space you always wanted.
8. Communication and Comfort
A good contractor should be able to satisfactorily answer your questions in a way that puts you at ease. At J.T. McDermott, we use the advanced technology of Buildertrend™ to enhance communication with our clients. It allows us to discuss outstanding items that are needed and provide you with progress photos. Most of all, though, we listen. No one knows better than you the thoughts, ideas and concerns you bring to the project. Our goal is to be your remodeling partner, and that means being comfortable with the entire process.
9. Professional and Open Marketing
All remodeling contractors are not created equal. The ideal contractor for your project is the one who delivers the results you expect. A professional remodeler educates clients on all the stages and components that make up a remodeling job. This can include green remodeling, aging-in-place design, new products and building techniques, and local trends. Your contractor should not only have knowledge and expertise in these areas, but be able to execute them as promised.
Selecting a remodeling contractor does not have to be a difficult process. You can find the contractor you need while still preserving your budget – and sanity! Follow these guidelines to make the selection process easier. At J.T. McDermott, we believe the design-build approach is a smart choice. We’d love to schedule a conversation to discuss your remodeling ideas and needs.
Ron is the resident numbers cruncher, helping clients meet their budget and get the remodel they’ve dreamed of. He considers himself the “man behind the curtain” who’s always looking out for the best interests of the client.