Hiring a contractor is the only way to get from here to here… Preferably as painlessly as possible.
Fall is a popular time for interior design projects especially if you want to unveil your new space over the holiday season. Selecting a contractor can be problematic if you are not prepared. Word of mouth helps but everyone has a different idea of a good job or good value. How do you compare and hire the contractors?
Preparing a bid package, a.k.a written Scope of Work is the best avenue to getting the most for your money. This is the only way to be certain you are comparing apples to apples. Never take the lazy route: what will it cost you do my bathroom? These people need details.
Give one bid package to all contractors under consideration to insure you’ll get fair bids. Writing down the details helps you as the homeowner organize your concepts.
How to create a Scope of Work:
- Be specific
- Outline every piece of relevant information. Include the type of sink, countertop, appliances to be installed, lighting, flooring, drawings for architectural changes, hardware, molding, etc.
- List the make and model or at the very least list an item and a TBD (do be determined) next to it. Caution, use TBD sparingly.
- Include everything you want them to do for you, from picking up products and materials to clean up.
Contractors like clients who make decisions and know what they want. I hear the horror stories from contractors who complain about clients who just define their selection as white sink.” This makes them crazy. One person’s white sink may cost $35 and another one may be $350.
IN WRITING MATTERS! Too often people present an idea verbally. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation or for the conversation to change each time you present it to a new contractor.
Help the contractor, help you. Kitchen or bathroom remodeling projects have the most details and the details need to be ironed out before any contractor is hired.
Request contractors bids/estimates in writing as well so you can compare. Run fast and far from a contractor who balks at giving a detailed written estimate. Most contractors are professionals and are happy to provide this.
There are no shortcuts, as a homeowner you’ve got to do your part which means knowing exactly what you want. Hire an interior designer to help you define your project, this is what we do.
Making the decision… Once you’ve given your two or three contractors your bid package and evaluated their written estimates, go with your gut. A fancy portfolio or website is meaningless if the person makes your skin crawl.
- Can you talk to the person?
- Do they listen and understand you and visa versa?
- Is the conversation easy?
Many home remodeling projects are pleasant and there are a number of fantastic professional contractors. The best contractors are those who listen first and then provide options. Good contractors are helpful, but don’t take the place of an architect or designer.
Great communication makes for a fabulous project. You can set the tone with the scope of work.