Choosing Remodelers

Choosing the right kitchen or bath remodeler can be a very stressful experience for your clients. If planned properly it can also be one of the most exciting times of their lives. They are entrusting a stranger with the safety of their money, home and family. Making the right decision can be the difference between a seamless and satisfying experience and a remodeling nightmare. Take the time to educate your clients to help them choose a remodeler who understands their needs, speaks their language and respects their lifestyle. The following are summarized points from the NAHB pamphlet “How to Choose a Remodeler” that can help your clients go through the process of choosing a remodeler:

Before you meet with a remodeler develop an idea of what you want to do. Take the time to write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. Look at magazines and collect pictures of what you like. The more clearly you are able to envision and describe the project the more clearly you will be able to convey that image to a remodeler. Consider traffic patterns, furniture placement, colors, lighting and how you want to use the space. Determine a budget. Talk to your remodeler about financing options or discuss them with a lender. Most importantly, make sure you divulge the budget to your remodeler. Not discussing your budget will result in wasted hours of design and presentation meetings for a project that may not meet your budget goals. And remember that it is just as important to not under-value your project as it is to not go over an agreed upon budget. The only way your remodeler can clearly understand your needs and his design limitations is to clearly understand your budget. If you are unsure what your budget should be, discuss this with your remodeler. A professional should be able to tell you estimated average costs for your type of project, or tell you what you should spend on the project based on the value of your home.

When you hire a remodeler, understand that you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of the remodeler's service will be reflected in the finished product. If you are interviewing more than one remodeler make a decision based on professionalism and not price! A professional remodeler will save you money by doing your project right the first time. He will ensure that your dreams are accurately translated into reality. He will offer in-house design services and have a professional, industry certified design staff. He will understand that your comfort throughout the project depends on effective communication. He will maintain a safe and reasonably neat job-site and prevent damage and injury to your home. He will provide the best quality materials possible within your budget. He will ensure your job meets or exceeds building codes and regulations and he will guarantee the quality of work with a warranty.

Before making a final decision use the following resources to make sure your remodeler is the best person for the job:

  • Check with your local Home Builders Association or Remodelers Council for membership.
  • Do an Internet search. Google his name.
  • Check for press releases and stories from the local media.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for any “unresolved” complaints.
  • Check with your local Attorney General's office for any fraud convictions.
  • Make sure your remodeler carries the required local business licenses.
  • Does your remodeler have a professional showroom?
  • Make sure your remodeler carries your state minimum liability and workers comp insurance.
  • Ask the remodeler to share references with you. Ask to see jobs similar to yours.
  • Call the references and ask questions. Would they hire the remodeler again?
  • Verify how long your remodeler has been in business.
  • Ask your remodeler if he or his staff have any industry recognized Education Designations.

Once you have decided on a remodeler base the relationship on mutual respect and honesty. Communicate your desires, needs and expectations clearly and in writing. Bring up concerns promptly and if you do not understand something ask for clarification. Read the contract and make sure it is detailed. A professional remodeler will be as clear regarding what is “not” included as he will about what is included. A sensitive remodeler will also be empathetic to your concerns and calm your anxieties. Move quickly to resolve all misunderstandings and give your remodeler an opportunity to address and correct any issues both before signing a contract and once work begins.

Remodelers: What else would you add to this list when you’re advising clients?

Mark Gandy, CGR, CGP, CAPS, CLR, is sales manager at Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center in Harbeson, Del.