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9 Questions to Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

9 Questions You Should Ask Your Remodeling Contractor

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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!

3 Ways To Make Your Laundry Room Work Even Harder

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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

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

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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

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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.

paver patio fire pit outdoor kitchen

Outdoor kitchens and more! Top 3 Spring Exterior Remodeling Projects

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

Who doesn’t love spring? Everything is blooming and people turn their sites to the outdoors. We love remodeling interior spaces, but enjoy bringing the comforts of indoors outside for all to enjoy. Here are a few of the most popular spring exterior remodeling projects.

1. Patios and Outdoor Living Spaces

Let your dream vacation inspire your patio whether it’s a sunny spot in the Caribbean or a stylish garden from Italy. Why not bring back fond memories all year round? And while you’re at it, make your outdoor space as cozy as your indoor spaces. Place bright, comfortable pillows in your outdoor seating area. If you have a table and chairs on your patio, consider adding potted plants or succulents (very popular right now) as a centerpiece. And take planting to all edges of your yard with hedges or bushes for added privacy.

2. BBQ-Master Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen brings joy to the chef and family alike. From wood burning ovens to built-in gas grills, the sky really is the limit when it comes to architecting a functional and fun outdoor kitchen. Roof coverage, fans and ventilation are important considerations when designing this unique space keeping guests cool in the summer and warm on spring nights.

3. Create Structure and Flow

One of the hidden gems of a comfortable outdoor space is the use of a roof, wall or doorway that provides structure or flow through the space. For example, stone can make a beautiful backdrop behind a seating area or separate garden space. Pergolas, whether free standing or part of a deck structure, add dimension and character to any outdoor space. Combined with a trellis, you can add climbing vines and flowers to almost any area of your yard.

If you’re considering an outdoor remodel, we’d love to talk with you. Love where you live!

dust control

Dust & Dust Control: Why During Your Remodel is as Important as After

By | Project Planning, Remodeling tips | No Comments

When you are looking to hire a remodeler, you’re usually drawn in by the before-and-after pictures and by the potential of your new space. While those photos are attractive and grab your attention, BEWARE — they don’t tell the whole story. What happens in the time between those before-and-after photos is just as important as the end result.

Your livability is our top concern during a remodeling project. We take pride in limiting the biggest threat to livability during a remodeling project: Dust

That’s why when you’re ready to hire a remodeler, make sure to discuss the during, specifically how the remodeler will take care of you while your house is being remodeled. Most homeowners want to stay in their homes during demolition and construction.We understand this, and that is why we discuss a livability plan with our clients before we start a project. This plan helps homeowners understand the timeline, logistics, dust control and safety precautions associated with the project.

That’s why we invest in the newest dust control technology to incorporate into our dust control plan and best practices. By using the groundbreaking BuildClean Dust Control System, we will capture and remove up to 90 percent of airborne dust that accumulates during your remodeling project.

Why is dust control important?

Because remodeling projects can stir up jobsite dust that can include dirt and debris, organic matter, drywall, cement, silica and sawdust. With the BuildClean Dust Control System, we collect dust at the point of generation and while it is still airborne, which is the most effective way to capture and virtually eliminate all types of worksite dust. You are not just investing in a job well done, you also would like to maintain a great home life during the project as well. To provide you and your family with the best remodeling experience, from start to finish, we use BuildClean every time.

If you want to know more about the ‘during’ our home owners experience when they remodel with us, drop us a note.

countertop material

Countertop Materials: Granite, Quartz and More

By | Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | No Comments

We spend a lot of time with our home owners picking the right materials to make their remodeling project come to life. And we frequently get questions about which countertop materials are the best. The answer is…it depends! Really it comes down to analyzing the pros and cons of each surface based on the qualities of the material itself, your budget and where the countertop is going to be installed.

There are lots of good articles about various countertop materials, but here is a summary of couple of our favorites (note any pricing information you find in these links may vary for your area and based on the age of the article). You can read the full articles by following the links below.

In an article by Houzz, their research shows two out of five home owners choose granite or quartz for their countertops. Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of these two popular choices.

Granite Pros:

  • It has longevity – it is time-tested and has universal approval
  • It’s available in wide slabs – it’s common to find slabs more than 70″ wide
  • It costs less than most quartz options
  • It’s has natural beauty – because it’s a natural product it comes with one-of-a-kind beauty

Granite Cons:

  • It’s porous – it isn’t naturally resistant to moisture
  • It’s costs more to maintain than quartz because it should be resealed every two to five years
  • Not many simple styles – due to the natural source most granite has a busy pattern to it
  • It’s brittle

Quartz Pros:

  • It’s low maintenance
  • It’s stronger than natural stone
  • It’s in high demand – which can make it higher in price
  • It has consistent, clean styles

Quartz Cons:

  • It’s expensive
  • It’s not suitable for outdoor installations
  • Slabs look exactly the same – which can be a little cookie-cutter-like
  • It doesn’t look 100% natural

Read the full article on Houzz or check out their this other article for more detail on granite and quartz as well as solid surfacing, marble, tile, laminate and other countertop options.