You’ve decided to renovate your kitchen, and the first thing you need to do is choose the right construction company for the job. This may seem like an easy decision at first, but there are many factors that affect your final choice, from their reputation to the final price of the project.
Finding the perfect company
There are tons of construction companies out there and selecting one that fits your needs can be extremely difficult. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of questions you should ask any construction company you’re considering hiring for your project. For example, if you own your home, will they take care of getting permits from local authorities? If you don’t own your home, how much does it cost to hire them? Can they refer plumbers or electricians who they’ve worked with before? It’s important that every aspect of your renovation goes as smoothly as possible—which is why it’s crucial to fully understand exactly what you’re signing up for. Only then can you make an informed decision about which company best suits your needs.
What do they specialize in?
The key is finding a general contractor that specializes in what you’re looking for. There are contractors out there who can do everything from plumbing to concrete, but you might end up paying more than you need to—as well as getting quotes that don’t meet your expectations. (If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.) A specialist has experience with his or her particular field and should be able to offer cheaper bids because they have fewer people working on your job at any given time. Instead of taking on everything themselves, they may team up with other specialists as needed during certain phases of your project and refer them when necessary.
Can they show me previous projects?
If you haven’t heard of them or seen pictures of their past work, that’s a good reason for pause. In fact, don’t just look at pictures – you should ask to visit some of their prior projects and speak with previous clients. Even if they have all these things in place, it’s worth asking what percentage of projects are repeat business vs. new jobs; 20% is great. Some contractors won’t take time out of their busy schedule for no reason at all, so be sure you’re offering something valuable (like free furniture placement) in exchange for an hour or two on your construction company’s calendar.
Are they insured?
All reputable construction companies should be able to provide you with proof of insurance. If they can’t, find someone else who can. The cost of mistakes in construction is much higher than that of replacing something damaged by an accident or bad weather. Check your contractor’s policy covers all areas and covers multiple risks; it may only cover work-related accidents so you might need separate policies if any problems are caused by faulty materials or poor design. Some builders don’t provide public liability cover for their staff, so make sure that’s included too; if anything goes wrong during your renovation, it could be highly embarrassing for them (and costly for you) if their workers cause injury or damage.
What is their experience level?
Different construction companies come with different levels of experience. Look for local, established companies that can show you samples of their work and reviews from past clients. Choose contractors that have been in business for several years, as they’ll likely be better equipped than inexperienced startups or sole proprietorships. It’s also important to know how many people will be working on your project; more hands on deck means better service and less likelihood of mistakes. Contractors who employ others will generally offer more services and take care of things like permits and insurance, but you may end up paying higher costs. This varies by region, so make sure to find out what is common where you live.
How much time will it take them to complete my project?
The bottom line is that if you choose an amateur company, your renovation will cost more than it should. Skimping on quality materials and/or labour will not only make for an ugly renovation, but also for an unhealthy environment and lower resale value down the road. If you plan on selling your home in 5 years or less, then doing it right may not be as important. But if you plan on staying there much longer than that, renovate well—the costs of fixing an inferior job are usually twice as high as what a good job would have cost in the first place.
How much will it cost me?
Depending on how extensive your renovations are, you may need to spend upwards of $100,000. That’s an enormous investment and you want to be sure that every dollar is being spent wisely. Ask for an estimate in writing and look over everything carefully before signing anything. Be sure to ask if there will be additional costs throughout your project—so called change orders can add up quickly when unexpected problems arise. When it comes time for planning and bidding, make sure each contractor you speak with has provided a detailed scope of work with price estimates on what they think each element will cost.