So you’ve decided to move forward with a home remodeling or renovation project and are ready to start looking for a contractor – where should you start? The amount of information and sheer number of companies to choose from can get overwhelming very quickly. One broad step you can take to narrow down your options is to decide what type of remodeler will best suit the needs of you and your family. We have divided this niche of the construction industry into six different types and have given a brief overview of each below.
Many clients haven’t explored hiring a contractor in a long time and consequently don’t realize how specialized the field has become. It may seem intuitive to just pick up the phone and start dialing for quotes, but you may end up with three different prices for three very different scopes of work. You probably wouldn’t want to call a roofing and siding specialist to look at your kitchen remodel as they wouldn’t have as much knowledge or experience working with the plumbing and electrical portions of the job. The opposite holds true as well, but for another reason – why call in the kitchen expert over a company that focuses on exterior renovation? The kitchen shop’s labor will cost more (more skilled workers) and they are not on roofs every day like the exteriors company is.
There is no silver-bullet, simple solution – every project is different, and you should try to align your requirements with your contractor’s expertise as closely as possible. This will save you time and money, avoid as many headaches as possible, and ensure the job is done correctly by a qualified professional. Read on for the list.
Types of Residential Contractors and Remodelers
- Repair and Maintenance – also known as a “handyman,” these contractors will be best-suited to perform small repairs or maintenance in and around your house. They might have some intermediate carpentry knowledge and know the basics of how your home works e.g. the plumbing or electrical systems. They are great for if you have a small, straightforward project like building a small deck or shed. Another good way to use repair and maintenance contractors is to have a list of the “odd jobs” you need done around the house like hanging pictures or changing a light bulb, and then hiring them by the hour to work through those tasks. Small repairs are fine, but lack of knowledge and experience can get you in trouble if you attempt to use them on a larger job.
- Exteriors Contractor – an exteriors contractor works on exactly what it sounds like they do – the exterior portions of your house! They specialize in roofing, siding, doors, windows, and sometimes additional trades like gutters, insulation, or decks. It all comes down to what that individual company is comfortable with offering, so there is some variation here. Exterior renovation is relatively straightforward, often doesn’t require permits, and is less intrusive than an interior remodel. The projects go quickly and these firms usually offer the best price, plus their labor force will be used to doing 2-3 similar types of jobs vs. a huge variety.
- Insurance/Emergency Restoration – companies that work in the insurance restoration field almost have to learn a new language to effectively communicate with clients and their insurance reps. They are masters of selective demolition as they need to move through a house and assess whether to salvage, clean, or start over for each individual component that was damaged. Many contractors avoid insurance work due to having to use specific estimating software (Xactimate 99% of the time), set markup and profit percentages, not to mention the work itself can be slow and painstaking. Companies that focus on this type of work have streamlined the processes and know the pitfalls, so we would advise using those firms if you do have an insurance or emergency restoration need.
- Full-Service Remodeler – a remodeler that claims they are “full-service” should be capable of taking your design/plans/specs and turning them into a reality with no further input on your end. They will not handle the initial design & planning stage which sets them apart from #6 on our list – the Design/Build Remodeler, but they can either perform or manage everything related to the actual construction. A full-service remodeler will have in-house teams or subcontractors capable of demolition, site prep, carpentry (framing, trim, cabinets, etc.), plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and everything else that would go into a major interior renovation. You should not have to track down subcontractors or perform the work yourself (unless you want to) when dealing with a full-service contractor. Since they take on complex jobs with expansive teams, you can expect them to come in at a higher price than a handyman or one-man shop.
- Kitchen and Bath Specialist – kitchen and bath specialists know what they are good at, and stick to those projects religiously. They don’t want to perform the whole-house remodels or build a large addition because it is not in their wheelhouse and too many unknowns are possible. These K&B shops serve a specific niche of homeowner very well because they won’t cost as much as a high-end remodeler and they’ll deliver consistently nice end result. Like the exterior remodelers, their labor force does the same 2-3 jobs many, many times instead of sporadically hopping from a deck to a kitchen to a roof to a… you get the idea. They will not be great at coming up with unique designs but if all you need is a refresh for your kitchen or bathroom, a K&B specialist is not a bad choice.
- Design/Build Remodeler – a design/build remodeler goes beyond even what a full-service contractor offers by bringing the design and planning stages of a project under the same roof as the construction itself. This offers many advantages, but also will result in the least cost-effective solution as well due to them tackling the hardest, design-intensive jobs with large teams of experts. A design/build contractor should truly be a one-stop shop where you enter with a vague idea of a project and eventually leave with a perfectly-executed improvement to your home or property. Every step will be taken care of from architectural drawings, interior design, finishes selection, all the way to final warranty. D/B remodelers can take on any project but will likely be much more expensive than any of the other types of contractors, so only use them when their knowledge and expertise is necessary.
Where Does R. L. Rider Remodeling Fit In?
R. L. Rider Remodeling is Mid-Michigan’s premier design/build remodeler which means we offer your entire construction or home improvement solution under one roof. We have the most-skilled carpenters in-house, and then use the best team of subcontractors to provide top-notch service no matter what trade is required. Per item #6 above, we are best set-up to tackle complex jobs like kitchen remodeling, additions, house-wide remodels, and historic restoration. We also are in the unique position to offer fully-customized (no cookie-cutter “custom” plans to pick from!) new home building. Our team of architects, interior designers, carpenters, project support staff, and sub-trades has applied our years of experience with remodeling (since 1924!!) to the custom home process – and our clients have loved it! We offer unique insight as to what people want to change about their home, as well as everything you could want from a new home builder such as knowledge of utilities, financing, permitting, etc.