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Rob Froehlich

9 Questions to Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

9 Questions You Should Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

By | Project Planning | No Comments

When planning a remodeling project, most people set out to do their due diligence when selecting a remodeling contractor (or firm). Your project may be a kitchen remodel or master bath remodel, or something larger like a room addition or whole house remodel. No matter what the scale of the project, it is a common school of thought to start out by interviewing three or even more remodeling contractors.  This sounds like a solid foundation for “due diligence”.

Better interviewing should mean less frustration in the long run

I want to share with you some of the things I have seen during my time as a remodeling contractor and design/build firm owner to shed some light on what real “due diligence” should look like interviewing multiple contractors, for most people, this becomes a disjointed and frustrating effort.

When it comes to interviewing a remodeling contractor, some questions are better than others. It is not uncommon in the first meeting I have with a prospective client to be asked:

  • Do you do quality work?
  • How long will my project take?
  • How much is it going to cost?

On the surface, these might seem like relevant questions.  In reality, they don’t really separate the pros from the posers. For more about these ‘poser’ questions, check out our 3 questions NOT to ask your remodeling contractor when you’re interviewing them.

Here are 9 questions to help you pick out the best person (or company) for your project:

2. How many employees do you have and what are their functions?

There are many size remodeling firms (as well as independent contractors) out there and one size does not necessarily fit all. Maybe your project is on the smaller size, like a laundry room make over or secondary bathroom. A smaller firm might be a great fit to accomplish a project like this. But if your potential project is larger and more challenging like a kitchen or master bathroom, then a smaller size company may not be the best fit.

Why is this important? No matter the size of the project, all these functions still need to take place within the company you choose.

  • Sales
  • Design
  • Estimating
  • Scope writing
  • Selection coordination
  • Production
  • Scheduling
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Warranty
  • To name just a few , so……

So as you listen to the remodeling contractor describe his organization, listen for these roles and who fulfills them. If they skip over some, don’t be shy. Ask them who handles these responsibilities. That way you won’t be surprised when someone different steps in to handle selections or scheduling.

2. How many hours per week do you work?

I am a tried and true all-American, built on hard work and all that jazz. But there is a point where hard work, say 60 or 70 hours a week, may actually just be poor management, chaos control and putting out of fires. Listen to the answers to your questions and see if you can determine whether the work hours are the result of choice and dedication to good work or the result of poor management.

3. What is your responsibility in the company?

Related to the questions above, this question helps you understand whom you will be dealing with throughout your project. If you want to deal with the same person throughout your project, then a smaller remodeling contractor might be for you. In larger companies, you may deal with multiple people from sales to design to production. Just make sure you get a good understanding of how the firm works and who your primary point of contact is for your project.

4. How many projects do you have going at one time?

Maybe by now you are seeing a theme here in my questioning? Company size is relevant to the size and scope of your project. Smaller companies typically handle just a few projects at a time, where larger companies typically can handle multiple projects. With that being said, there are some smaller companies who can handle a large project very competently as well as large companies who work on many small projects. It is important to know how many projects, the size of those projects and how your specific project will (or won’t) fit.

5. What neighborhoods do you work in?

Some neighborhoods might have pretty significant price swing where you live. The gist of the question is, we all live in homes that are affordable to us. My strongest recommendation is to pick a contractor that typically works on your home’s price point and understands how your vision fits into the value that can be created and enjoyed within your neighborhood.

6. What price homes do you typically work on?

A remodeling contractor who normally works on homes in the $200K to $400K range is used to work with materials (e.g., countertops, lights, flooring) that fit in that price range. Likewise, a contractor who is used to creating spaces for homes in the $600K to $800K range is going to have a much different approach to finishes and processes. Think of laminate counters vs. marble counter tops.  Or “off the shelf” box cabinets vs. custom-made cabinetry. 

7. Can you show me on YOUR website some similar project to mine that you have worked on in the past?

This question will help solidify your findings from the previous question. It is always re-assuring to know and see something you want can be accomplished by the remodeling contractor that you have selected.

8. Do you have any industry accreditations?

There are a number of national organizations that offer accreditation for its’ members. And that getting these accreditations is not for the faint at heart. Trust me. It takes time, money and effort to get them. In return, it reveals a remodeling contractor’s knowledge and passion for the industry.

9. Have you submitted for or won any local or national design awards?

I think we all take pride in our work and love to show it off!

 

So where do these questions leave things?

See how we slipped a 10th question in there? When you’re looking to invest in a remodeling project, ultimately you want to base your decision on trust and value. Do you trust that the remodeling contractor can do what they say they can do through demonstrated projects and processes? And do you and your remodeling contractor value the same things – the project vision, quality of work, creativity, or whatever your particular list is.

Choosing the right contractor for your project can make the difference between your new space just being an “update” or a total “game changer” for your home.  When you are confident in your remodeling contractor and you’ve partnered with them for the right reasons, you should end up with something you can be proud of and feel you gotten a great value for your dollar.

I wish you a successful project and hope your new space turns out to be all you hoped it could be and more. If I can be of any further help, I encourage you to reach out to me. I welcome your questions and feedback.

 

3 Questions You Should NOT Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

3 questions NOT to ask a remodeling contractor

By | Project Planning | No Comments

We hope when you’re undertaking a kitchen remodel, master bath remodel, whole house remodel or any remodeling project, you’re doing your due diligence by considering a handful of design remodel firms. It is not uncommon during an initial discussion with a prospective client to be asked a bunch of questions. Interestingly though, we often get asked some questions that don’t really separate the pros from the posers.

Here are those questions and why they may not tell you much about how your project will actually go:

Do you do quality work?

Quality is completely in “the eyes of the beholder”. I have been on projects where the homeowner is absolutely thrilled with the quality of work they received and in my mind, the quality of work would not pass for a 12th grade shop class project.

Sometimes it helps, especially with topics like “quality” to have a couple of examples. Take a look at your interior doors, does the trim in the corners meet perfectly or are there gaps and cracks in the corners? Does the door close tightly against the trim or does the door rattle when it is closed? Is there a doorstop on the wall to prevent it from damaging the wall?

And while you’re looking at the woodwork in your home, look at how your hardwood floors transition to your carpeted or tiled floors. Do they line up or is one floor noticeably higher than the other?

When you’re talking about quality, the devil is in the details and there are hundreds of them. So have a good understanding of what quality you expect. If you are still unsure your remodeling contractor of choice can meet your demand, ask to take a look at some of their projects.

 

How long will this remodeling project take?

This is a legitimate question, but unfortunately it is not going to help you weed through the myriad of concerns you have in the interviewing process. I will address typical job durations in another blog, so make sure to check back periodically or let me know that you’d like to receive a link when it’s ready.

A better question you could ask is: how do you plan and schedule your projects and how do you manage to keep it on schedule?  If your remodeling contractor uses a technology solution to manage your project, I am sure he will share it with you. Maybe he has a proven paper-based method or he may use what I like to call the “seat of the pants” method. Knowing the answer to these questions will help you select the best contractor.

How much is this remodeling project going to cost?

Cost (along with schedule) are the two more tangible aspects of a remodeling project seemingly available early in the process. And knowing the cost helps you know if you can afford what you want and love. For most people, it’s a necessity before being able to commit to the project. But asking this question early in the interview process is a bit like asking someone to marry you on your first date. If pressed, some remodeling contractors will aim low to keep the conversation going.

Instead, ask: for the caliber of home that we live in, what is the typical cost range for the remodeling project we are considering? For example, if you’re looking to completely remodel the kitchen of your $500,000 home, then ask what a typical range for a kitchen remodel would be for a $500,000 home. And please know that one price range does not cover the full spectrum of home prices for a typical kitchen remodel. If you Google what the average kitchen remodel costs, you will get an answer like $21,984.00 (at the time of this writing). This amount might not even cover the costs of an appliance package for some kitchen remodel projects. Remember, this is still the “first date” with your remodeling contractor, so it is going to take some time to fully understand the costs of what you are wanting.

 

As you can see there are some common questions that can be adjusted a bit to get answers that can help you make a more informed decision about your remodeling contractor and project. We’ll talk further about interview questions, but in the meantime if you have questions for us feel free to drop us a line.

leaves in gutter

Halloween Tricks & Treats

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

We love the fall and especially the fun decorating, cooking and celebrations that go along with Halloween. Just for fun, we pulled together a quick list of our favorite Halloween tricks and treats. Share yours with us!

Cool Pumpkin Carving

Who knew pumpkins could communicate so much! Check out these clever pumpkin carving ideas.


Image via Design Sponge

Fun Table Decorations

Thanks to HomeBNC for these great centerpiece ideas:

Fall Home Projects

And it wouldn’t be a Corinthian blog without some ideas for fall home projects. See what Bob Villa has to say about home maintenance in the fall.

leaves in gutter

Only have time for decorating and pumpkin carving, but not home maintenance. Drop us a note and we’d be happy to help!

kitchen remodel, indianapolis home remodeling, corinthian fine homes

Renovation ROI – Getting the Best Return on Investment

By | Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

Sometimes our clients remodel for the passion of it, but more often than not, they make remodeling choices based on what will be most valuable when they decide to sell. While there are no guarantees, there are some remodeling projects that typically provide higher returns on the investment. Our friends at House Beautiful shared their list which got us thinking. Here are 3 of our favorite investment-savvy renovations.

Kitchen Smorgasbord

It seems that no matter how nice the other rooms in your house are, people congregate in the kitchen. Maybe it’s your queso dip or maybe it’s because the kitchen is the heart of your home. Remodeling a kitchen can mean more storage, better appliances, a larger island and a more comfortable place for food, fun and family. What is your biggest kitchen complaint (besides your family leaving dirty dishes in the sink)? We can help (maybe not with the dirty dishes part)!

kitchen remodel, indianapolis home remodeling, corinthian fine homes

See more pictures of this Corinthian Remodel.

Best Basements Ever

Before you think about expanding the footprint of your house, consider enhancing your basement. Whether you want a man cave or an entertainment space that’s the envy of your neighbors, a basement is one of the most flexible spaces in your home. Extra bedrooms? And exercise space? If you can dream it, your basement can become it!

indianapolis home builders, contractors indianapolis, indianapolis contractors, home remodeling indianapolis, corinthian fine homes, corinthian homes,

See more pictures of this Corinthian Remodel.

Laundry & Utility Rooms

Have you considered adding a utility sink to your laundry room or a dog bath to your utility room? There are several ways to turn what maybe the most ‘boring’ room into one of the most functional and even beautiful. Beauty in utility!

laundry built ins

See more pictures of this Corinthian project.

There are several other good ROI renovations. Give us a call and we can chat about your ideas!

3 Ways To Make Your Laundry Room Work Even Harder

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

Did you think it was possible to make one of the hardest working parts of your home work even harder? It is! And here are three of our favorite ideas from an article posted by our friends from Houzz.

Add a Dog Washing Tub

If you’re tired of your four-footed friend lounging in your bath tub, consider adding a dog washing station to your laundry room remodel. It’s even better if your laundry opens to the outdoors or garage. Make sure you tile your floors and the washing station to make cleanup easy.
dog tub utility room

Add Some Built-Ins

Looking for a better place for your ironing board? Or maybe you want some hampers that the family actually thinks are fun to use? You can put the ‘fun’ in functional by adding a variety of different built-ins.

laundry built ins

See more pictures of this Corinthian project.

Install a Floor Drain

While you’re contemplating a tiled floor in your laundry, you should also think about having a floor drain installed as well. A floor drain is great if you have a drip dry rack and it’s even better if your washer has a little accident!

floor drain

man cave

The Making of A Man Cave

By | Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

June is the month of weddings and Father’s day! So it wouldn’t be complete without a look at some of the most interesting man cave renovations we’ve seen. Maybe one of these ideas will inspire your man cave make over!

Make an actual cave

If you have the space and depth, consider making your man cave and actual cave! And if you can’t dig a basement below your basement, consider using rich textures like stone, wood and interesting lighting to get that cave-like effect.

Create Your Own Sports Center

Theater seating, multiple HDTV options, a beautiful bar and sports memorabilia can make a fun man cave that the whole family (and neighborhood) can enjoy.

Make The Garage Your Home

Sometimes a man’s home is his garage. But why stop at just a place to park the car and store the mower? If you love cars or just ending up spending a lot of your time in the garage, consider adding a comfortable seating area and TV. This garage turned man-cave even has a fridge and microwave!

What’s Your Man Cave?

Some of these ideas may be a bit out of reach, but the spirit of these rooms can be translated into almost any man cave whether your entire basement or a room above the garage. If you’re considering a man cave make over, let us know!
building remodel

Getting the Best from your Contractor

By | Project Planning, Remodeling tips | No Comments

When you’re investing in a remodeling project, you want things to go as smoothly as possible. The relationship between you and your design and construction team is the cornerstone for a successful project. Here are some of our favorite tips for getting the best from your contractor.

  1. Pick a point person – There are many conversations and decisions as part of a remodeling project. Keep things simple and clear for your family and your contractor by designating a point person to work directly with your contractor.
  2. Communicate early and often – From a signed contract to an agreed upon timeline and budget, it’s important to communicate early and often. If you have questions, ask. If you have concerns, please tell your contractor earlier. It’s much easier to address concerns about the tile before it’s installed. And your contractor should be happy to engage in a discussion about your questions so you get the home of your dreams.
  3. Plan for ‘alone time’ – Depending on the size of your remodeling project, it is likely that your contractor will need to be in your home when you are not. Whether you decide to give your contractor a key or access with a garage code, make sure you’re clear about your preferences so that your contractor can work efficiently. But do only what you’re comfortable with.
  4. Keep your kids and pets in the safe zone – Remodeling projects can be messy but they can also be dangerous to kids and pets. Safety is important for all involved, so please keep your kids and pets out of the construction zone for everyone’s peace of mind.

 

3 Kitchen Backsplash Ideas

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

Planning to remodel your kitchen? Looking for a beautiful backsplash but tired of the tile approach? While tile won’t go out of style, here are a few other materials that make an amazing looking kitchen.

Brick

If you’re lucky enough to have exposed brick walls in your kitchen, keep them! But even if your home doesn’t already have brick, you can add them and create a rich backsplash like this one by Frances Avenue in Vancouver.

 

Wood

There are several options when it comes to a wood backsplash from color, placement and type of wood. The options are as endless as the parties you’ll host in your beautiful new kitchen like this one by Shift in Portland.

 

Glass and Fabric

Find a beautiful piece of fabric and cover it with a piece of glass to bring color and life to your kitchen. This beautiful backsplash was designed by Incorporated in New York.

 

And we couldn’t leave out tile after all!

Or if tile is your style, then consider the angle, placement and color to achieve a unique kitchen experience like this kitchen designed by San Diego based Signature Designs Kitchen and Bath.

Corinthian Family Space Remodel

5 Decor Items To Splurge On

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

We loved the article published by Architectural Digest earlier this month about home decor items to splurge on. We know our clients have a budget, but there are home accent items that are worth challenging that budget.

Of the five items listed, the two that stood out to us were:

  1. Ceilings – A beautifully designed ceiling adds to the dynamic feeling of a room. Whether you choose plaster, paneling, wall paper or other unique material, make a strong visual statement with your ceiling. Also give careful consideration to the beautiful light fixture that hangs from it.
  2. Wall Tiles – Think outside the box and consider including wall tiles in spaces other than your kitchen and bath. Tile is not only incredibly durable, but it adds a beautiful richness to any space.

The other three suggestions are an entryway table, bed linens and kitchen lighting. Read the whole article on Architectural Digest. Like the room above? See more pictures of this remodel.

Curb Appeal: Improving Your Home’s Value

By | Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

In our last blog post, we talked about creating beautiful backyard living spaces. And now we’d like to turn your sights to your front yard! Remodeling projects that enhance the exterior of your home expands your living space and adds value to your home. Here are a few of our favorite curb appeal remodeling ideas:

1. Give Your Yard Some Love

front yard landscaping

You give your wardrobe a seasonal sprucing up, so why not show your yard some love too. Consider adding a paved walkway or large planters to accent your homes entrance. Find a few places in your yard to add flowering plants or a beautiful tree. Don’t forget to use quality mulch in all your landscaping beds!

2. Upgrade Your Entryway

Wooden Front Door

Create a welcoming entry to your home by adding a covered porch or portico. Or if your home already has a porch, consider replacing the columns and rails to make a beautiful architectural statement. Your front door should be given special consideration in a remodel as it’s likely the first part of your home someone will spend time studying. Whether it’s a fresh coat of paint or a completely new door, this one change can make or break your exterior remodel. And if you have a fun streak, consider adding some colorful chairs to your porch.

3. Transform the Exterior Surfaces

If your home has traditional vinyl siding, consider replacing it with fiber cement siding. Or for a more significant transformation, replace siding with manufactured stone or brick. Explore the possibility of incorporating special materials as accents like fish-scale shingles or board-and-batten shutters.

If any of these ideas sound great but you need help designing the perfect exterior for your home, we’d love to help.