Ask questions and get answers from experienced industry professionals
Investigate a bunch of contractors. Interview several of them. Narrow your list down to the ones you actually would be willing to do business with.
Be truthful with them about the amount of money you want to spend, and, are willing to spend if necessary to create the perfect project. Find a company that has a process that fits you, someone you trust, someone who communicates with you the way you want.
If you aren't truthful with them, do you think you can trust them to sense that and be truthful with you? Are you someone who likes to bargain? If so then maybe you give them a lowball number, they give you a high number, you negotiate and meet in the middle and then, do either of you feel like you trust each other?
Rather, find someone you can be confident with. Someone who is willing to speak frankly with you about prices. Call their referrals, and ask the questions that you are most afraid of! Find out how they dealt with it. Find out what things when wrong (they always do) and how the remodeler handled it. With a temper? With reluctance? In a way that was fair to all involved?
Next to building or buying a home, a remodel may be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make — and choosing the right remodeling partner is the single most critical component to whether that investment maintains its value. The best place to start in considering a remodeling partner is to identify those that are registered and/or licensed with the state to do business as remodeling contractors. In addition, check for their membership in local and state remodeling professional organizations, such as NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), and whether they have certifications in their trades — i.e., Green Certified Professional Certification, Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Remodeler Associate (CRA), Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), etc.
Other factors to consider include years in business, reputation, recommendations and references, and membership in local business, civic and community organizations. NARI suggests the following questions you should ask prospective remodelers:
How long have you been in business?
Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance?
What is your approach to a project such as mine?
How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
May I have a list of references from those projects?
May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?
What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
If you are getting competitive bids, be sure to only work with reputable companies. We also recommend researching articles and tips from industry websites such as RemodelingMag.com and NARIofIdaho.org to learn more about the importance of selecting a professional remodeler.
Over the years, we've collected a number of commonly asked questions that we hear from folks who are contemplating a home remodel, and we've devoted part of our website to answering them. Feel free to peruse these Q&As.
A good, reliable general contractor would never charge more or less depending on your address. GuildQuality.com is one of the best places to find real, honest feedback from REAL clients. You can also use the map feature on each pro's listing to see who has worked in your area!
In addition to some of the other answers, the Better Business Bureau is another resource to use to begin your search for a contractor. Friends and family may have also had a good experience with a contractor and may be able to refer you. Make sure to use a contractor that has been in business for at least 5 years as a large percentage of contractors fail within 2 years and simply reform under a new name. Make sure the estimates you receive are as detailed as possible. While you don't want to experience prejudice because of your zip code, the cheapest bid usually should be discarded along with the highest bid. Make sure to do your research on-line. While unforseen issues usually do arise in complex projects, a good, experience contractor should forsee many of these. This will help you avoid taking the lowest bid and then paying large add-on and change order upcharges. When asking for references, it is good to get some recent ones, as well as, some from 2+ years back.
Do your homework by not only interviewing several contractors, but talk to their previous clients and get their take on the value they received working with their contractor. There isn't a professional contractor operating that charges more based on where the project is located.
It's important you trust your contractor and that they are a good fit for how you like to operate. Take the time to understand their process. When all is said and done, you should be having fun through your project. If you're not, you might have picked a contractor that doesn't fit the best.
Good luck and HAVE FUN!! :)
There is a lot of good advice in people's responses. The best thing you can do is get as much detail as possible in your estimate from your contractor/s. Just to clarify one myth, we, like most professionals, value our time. If a job takes 30 minutes to drive to, this time has to be accounted for in the management of the project. We, being a Contractor, charge more to manage a job that is half an hour from our place of business than we do a job that is 5 minutes away. Just to be fair, it cannot be said as a flat out fule of thumb that Contractors should not charge more solely due to location alone. You should never pay more because you are in a fancier neighborhood with the same logistics as the one next door. Just take it all into consideration during your search.
Where is the home located?
There are applications (i.e. work in the city) where the work costs more to complete than a similar project in the suburbs.
Can you provide us with some more details about where the project is and why you think it might cost more?
Like everyone else has mentioned you have to do your due diligence in securing a high quality contractor. However, you the client may want to switch the context of the question. If you are implying that your residence address has an assumed effect on the face value of your estimate, then I would have to make the assumption that your address dictates a certain level of implied “quality” if you will. So if your tastes and design are at an architectural standard that requires high end craftsmanship and the price point will reflect such expertise. When doing a project in your home you always want to pay for the knowledge and not just the brawn. If you were remodeling a kitchen in a small rental apt in a college town community your price point again would reflect the simplicity of the job. Hope this helps…
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