With today’s stellar economy, it can be difficult to find a remodeler, or any contractor really, to partner with in anticipation of constructing your project. It is very frustrating to plan your remodel, investigate financing, discuss endlessly, and finally decide to move forward with your project only to find it nearly impossible to find somebody licensed and qualified to work with. We understand your frustration. In this article, we’d like to share some tips and general information on how to best uncover the right remodeler for your job located in Lansing’s Capital Region. While not a step-by-step guide, this valuable information seeks to help you answer the question: “What boxes must my remodeler check in order to earn my business?”
Evaluate Based on Your Most Important Factors
This one is probably obvious, but it is also the most important, so we are listing it first! You need to choose the remodeler or contractor that is right for you, your family, and your particular project. Reading reviews; speaking with previous clients; checking out social media profiles – all that information is awesome, and we are lucky to have it so readily available. But at the end of the day, no praises anyone wrote online are going to ensure you get a similar experience. That means you should take those data points into consideration, but there is a degree of following your gut as well.
What Counts as an Important Factor?
“Okay great, we know we need to choose based on what’s important, but for this project it’s all important, and we don’t want to sacrifice anything!” Well, yes, but let’s consider a famous illustration showing what I mean by most important.
Picture a triangle with a word written on each of its three corners – they say “Speed,” “Cost,” and “Quality.” Easy, right? These are the qualities that would make up a hypothetical perfect project. The job would be done quickly and finish exactly according to schedule. The materials, craftsmanship, and final cleaning would be of high quality. And the cost would be fair and reasonable to where both sides feel happy about a good deal.
Now comes the tricky part – you only get to choose 2 of the 3 corners of the triangle for any one project. No fair! So you could get a high-quality job at a great price, but it wouldn’t go very fast so don’t plan on meeting any deadlines. Or you could go with a high-quality job performed at record-breaking speed with a very high price to go along with. The last option would be a project that is built quickly and cheaply, but with poor final build quality.
It might not be that extreme, but you get the picture – when you want one thing you may have to compromise on another thing in return. Or you can just throw huge sums of money at the project and get whatever you want, but that is usually not the situation so we’ll ignore that here. Your decision won’t always be as broad as speed, cost, and quality either. It might be as minor as choosing where to allocate the last bit of your budget between two upgrades you’re considering. No matter the choice, make sure you evaluate so that you are happy in the end!
Set Realistic Expectations
A lot of disappointment in life comes from unrealistic expectations, and the construction industry is no different. Building a home or remodeling is affected by a large number of factors that stretch from local to global, plus Michigan builders must deal with changing seasons/winter. You may never consider them, but here are a few examples of what may affect your project behind the scenes.
A shortage of skilled labor sparked by the Great Recession of 2008 is just beginning to make its full effect known as many aging members of the industry’s work force retire with no replacements in sight. Building materials have risen steadily in price with increased tariffs and huge demand as we continue to recover to pre-Recession levels of housing supply. Even with these high costs of labor and materials, demand for construction and remodeling is at 8-year highs and as such, contractors around Lansing are consistently booked out 2-3 months minimum to get going on a project. Some companies won’t even give estimates or are booking those out a month or two to allow their labor teams to catch up.
We are not making excuses! We still offer the best service, craftsmen, building materials, and design. We still promise to return estimates to you within 3 business days so you can get the budget you need to make decisions with. All this is to say that you should take these factors into account when phoning around looking for help. Contractors and remodelers are not out to get you, they are not trying to screw you on price, and they are not giving you the runaround. We are simply very busy with the spring/summer work season combined with nationwide variables and want you to set your expectations with that knowledge! Quality of work is (or at least should be) non-negotiable; price and schedule might have to be if you want your job done in this current construction climate.
Get a Clear Scope of Work Established
The biggest thing you can do to speed up your search for a builder or remodeler is to establish a clear, easy-to-follow scope of work. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t listen to new ideas or change your mind based on good information, you need to move forward in the way best for your project regardless. But this is just some advice that if you come up with a scope that involves nine alternates, two deducts, and eight stages of work – not a lot of companies are going to be willing to sink days or weeks of time into giving you every single possible combination of price. Figure out where priorities are, what your budget is, and then let the pros help guide you toward what is possible now and what you should put aside for further down the road.
Decide What Type of Contractor You Need
Once you have a scope of work set, residential customers with a project they’d like built are typically looking at 3 options for type of contractor they can hire: handyman, small shop, and full-service. Lansing has many contractors of each type that you can hire, but what do each of them specialize in? R. L. Rider Remodeling is considered a full-service remodeler so we fit best on jobs that need lots of managing, are large in scope, or ones that just need the attention of a true professional.
Handymen are often un-licensed, un-insured, and are the least expensive – they are suited best for small repairs and odd jobs. Small shops with 1-3 employees + the owner are usually a step up in professionalism and knowledge, and see a corresponding rise is cost. They are good at most jobs, but may struggle with larger or complex projects like a big kitchen remodel. Full-service remodelers are the most expensive but can offer a wide range of services, knowledge, and experience. They can perform any work but are a good fit for complicated projects where a lot has potential to go wrong if not carefully supervised.
Do Your Research
You can finally start looking for a contractor/remodeler with the prior steps taken care of, but where to start? Searching the web is obviously a great idea, and you can read reviews there and peruse photo galleries to vet which contractors you like and which ones might be toward the bottom of your list. Some review sites are more reliable in that they won’t manipulate or charge for reviews: we like to rely on Google, Facebook, and Houzz as they do not charge fees and always use honest tactics. Some sites we steer clear from are Yelp, Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yellow Pages, Home Advisor/Service Magic, and Angie’s List – you can read about them further online if you desire.
Reading reviews and browsing online are awesome but speaking with a past client or friend of yours who has worked with the company in question is a great way to get to the next level. We advise clients to look for trust & comfort as 2 keys in a remodeler once you determine that their quality of work is up to your standard. The Home Show held at Michigan State’s Pavilion each March is a stellar opportunity to see/meet many contractors at once to get a feel for what’s out there. As a good rule of thumb – the bigger the project, the bigger, more experienced contractor you are going to want.