Depending on the project you are planning, there are many specific things you'll want to know before the work begins. For kitchens, it is important to decide whether you will be changing the entire floor plan (a process that may involve the rather expensive task of changing your plumbing design) or simply replacing existing surfaces and appliances with new ones. For living rooms, you will want to decide up front which features like wet bars and built-in audio/visual components you'll want the finished room to contain. No matter what kind of project you'll be working on, however, the following five questions should have solid answers before you begin.
Project duration is definitely something you'll need to consider before contacting a contractor. Do you need this project finished in a month? By the holidays? Within the next year?
1.What Is My Budget?
Though budget is likely to be an important concern for every homeowner who enters a remodeling project, there are a surprising number of people who have found themselves in over their heads because they did not have a solid figure in mind when the project got underway. Whether you're building a brand new house or simply repairing a worn-out picket fence, the amount of money you are willing to spend on the project should be all but carved in stone well before you begin contacting contractors. If it turns out that no one gives you a quote that's within your price range, it is a definite indicator that the project should be put off until you can afford it!
2.What--If Any--Work Will I Consider Doing Myself?
Some homeowners love the idea of putting their own bodies to work during the remodeling process; others do not. It is important, however, to do a little research on what tasks the project involves and decide if any stage of the process is a viable DIY project. Since some portions of most projects require a professional touch while others involve mostly time and elbow grease, considerable savings can be had by doing the latter on your own. For example, hanging drywall for a new addition is a part of the process that many homeowners already have the tools to handle on their own. Finishing the drywall, on the other hand, can be very difficult for the uninitiated and is often well worth the cost of a seasoned hand.
3.What Are My Absolute Must-Haves?
Every involved home improvement project will be full of options and choices you'll have to make, but it is a good idea to make a list of the features, functions, and/or fixtures that you absolutely want up front. This way, when it comes down to making the most of your budget, you and your contractor will have a clearer idea of which areas are the most important to you and where your funds can be used more sparingly.
4.What Is My Timeframe?
Project duration is definitely something you'll need to consider before contacting a contractor. Do you need this project finished in a month? By the holidays? Within the next year? The answer to these questions can have a significant effect on the contractor that is best for you as well as the bottom-line cost of the project as a whole. If your timeframe is very short, you may have to pay a little more for quality work; this is one of the reasons why just about anyone in the industry will tell you it's never too early to begin planning.
5.Who Should I Hire for the Job?
After you've solidified the answers to the other four questions, it's time to answer the one that will likely have the most profound influence in how your project unfolds. No matter what kind of remodeling or renovation you're planning, it is crucial that you hire a contractor who: Has a history of good service (that is backed up by several references), communicates well with you, knows the materials he or she will be working with well, and is upfront about what you can expect during the project.
How do you find the right contractor? The only real way is legwork. Contact at least three companies in your area who offer the services you need, and make sure to ask questions and get quotes. If none seems like a clear stand-out, contact three more. Eventually, you'll find one that fits your needs well--and it'll be well worth the effort both during the project and after it is over.