We’re not exactly unbiased when it comes to the topic of hiring building contractors, but we have a lot of experience in this arena: On one hand, we’ve seen truly great projects (by our crews and by our competitors), and on the other hand, we’ve heard horror stories from broken-hearted homeowners who dropped their GCs mid-project after enduring too many problems to count.
We want homeowners to choose the right contractor for their projects—so we put together a short-and-sweet list of tips for anyone starting their search:
1. Think about the end game.
You can tell a “fix and flip” contractor from a true custom builder by considering each one’s goals: The “fix and flip” contractor wants to create the best cosmetic effect at the lowest possible cost. The GC’s goal is to create the highest revenue margin. For the custom builder, the aim is to create the greatest lasting value in older homes. Sometimes that includes addressing issues with systems, such as HVAC or electrical, that aren’t cosmetic. The goal for custom remodelers is to sustain the life of the home for the owner—an aim that usually includes both functional and aesthetic updates.
2. Play favorites.
If you’ve decided to give your home some love by investing in remodeling, you’ll find a few custom builders who can do that for you. Their pricing will likely be nearly identical (subcontractors and the market dictate much of the cost of construction), so choose the firm you like. Have a face-to-face meeting with the person at each company who will be managing your project. Do you get along? Do you like the way the person communicates? Do you enjoy his or her company? You’re about to spend months and months working together, so you should pick someone with whom you want to spend a lot of time.
3. Request references.
When you get previous clients on the phone, don’t just ask if the company did the job right: Also ask “How was the experience?” Building or remodeling a luxury home has some inherent stress, but the right builder should alleviate anxiety and help you enjoy the process.
4. Find out about their networks.
Ask your prospective builders about design professionals they work with: For large-scale renovations, you want an interior designer on board, and you need an architect. The best custom contractors know what we do well, and we also know how to lean on the other experts in high-end home building and remodeling to produce the best possible product. At Duet Build, we highly recommend you hire an interior designer before we begin construction because interior designers are key to helping homeowners with the countless decisions about a space’s layout, flow, function, and style.
5. Clarify expectations.
Ask what you can expect from the person supervising your project: How often will you get updates? How frequently will you meet? Will that person be on the ground every day at the site or once a week? What’s the company’s standard for returning client calls, emails, or texts? Be sure that what matters to you in the process aligns with the company’s approach to client relations.
We welcome the opportunity to meet with you if you’re looking for a custom home remodeler or builder. Let us know how we can help you create a home you love for years to come.