Not long ago, I ran into an old friend from out of state. She seemed to be bursting with desire to ask me a burning question (she must have seen me coming!) Luckily, I did get a “hello” first, but then she launched into what was obviously a deep-seeded emotional trauma.
A MAJOR HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
She and her husband were planning a major house remodel. Uh oh.
Like so many people, she was scared to death of stories she’d heard about disastrous home building and remodeling projects. She wanted to know whom she could trust. She wanted to know where to start. She was at a loss about picking architects, contractors, General Contractors. She had so much excitement about what they wanted to accomplish to turn their home into their dream but was in danger of letting these fears stop them.
This Builder is Scrupulous, This One is Not. This Architect is …
Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo … Ahh, if it were only that easy! There’s no agency that stamps grade AAA or AA on any of your building industry professionals. It takes a little more effort to know who’s their to support your interests and who’s out to line their pockets at your expense.
Take heart. It’s been my experience that most professionals are sincere about serving you. They take their jobs seriously and have a reputation to uphold. And, thankfully, it’s not all that difficult to find the right ones for you.
PICK ONE BUILDING PRO AT A TIME
Here’s the best tip to calm your nerves. You don’t need that many key contacts. It’s not as daunting as it seems. Sure, eventually you’re going to need suppliers, subcontractors, lenders, engineers, drafters, architects, inspectors, and well, the list goes on … but if you try to pick them all at once you’ll go crazy with confusion and eventually the fear will overwhelm you.
Start with one key choice and follow a procedure for picking that key person. Then as the remodeling process develops you can use the same procedure for subsequent choices. Each choice will be easier and easier as you go.
The Coach, General Contractor, or Architect
One of these will likely be your first or “key choice” to get your remodeling project rolling. Are you going to be an owner builder? Will you turn the project over to a General Contractor? Are you planning on a major design change for the house?
You will decide your approach. If you are going to be involved in your own management, which I recommend, you should probably hire a professional home building coach first. But, whatever you decide and whichever of these three professionals you pick as your “key contact”, here’s a simple procedure to follow.
Research: You cannot and should not avoid this step. Ask friends and acquaintances, check with your local lumber yards and Home Centers, look online and in the yellow pages. Make a list of your top choices.
Interviews: From the list you can now choose three of four to interview. Be clear about what you want, be consistent with your questions with each interview, don’t look for false promises and agreement with everything you say, and assess their interest in you.
References & Licenses: Always get references. Always check for their needed licenses. Always follow up and check their references. Ask the references pertinent questions and determine if the professional was responsive, timely, and honest.
Get it in Writing: Be sure to be clear about your agreements. Know what you want and understand exactly what the professional can provide. Do not push them to provide things that they normal don’t and probably can’t. Then, get it in writing.
Once you have your first professional in place, you’re on your way! If you follow this procedure, you’ll very likely make an excellent choice and your fears and anxieties will diminish or vanish.
A major remodel is a big project. Keep your eyes on the beautiful result, communicate closely with your key professional and stay the course. There will be ups and downs but with good help, you’ll reach your goal. Happy remodeling!