Trust a potential home remodeling contractor with my budget number when interviewing…Really?

Wall down, problem solved! Accomplishing design challenges for this Windham, New Hampshire Kitchen Remodel
July 2, 2018
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Trust a potential home remodeling contractor with my budget number when interviewing…Really?

As an educated consumer you understand the likely question “What is your target budget for this project?” may be asked upon interviewing professional contractors for a remodeling project. You may agree the question is relevant to the process and quite reasonable. However, for some it may feel intrusive, leaving one to question whether to trust and divulge what you are willing to pay.
It is not uncommon for the remodeling and building professionals to experience a lack of trust from the consumer. Rest assured, there are many educated, talented, and trustworthy contractors with a passion for partnering with homeowners to create beautiful spaces, at a fair and reasonable costs. The key is knowing how to identify them.
Sharing your target budget can actually give you control of your project. It sets expectations and elicits confidence, which goes a long way toward building trust. Here are some additional guidelines that will help you find the right professional contractor to make your remodeling dreams a reality…

1. Do your homework, first.

Knowledge is power. Avoid “sticker shock” by researching average costs of similar projects. An informative tool is the Remodeler’s Magazine Cost vs. Value Annual Report that compares average cost for 21 popular remodeling projects in 149 markets with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets. Although each remodeling project is homeowner specific, researching costs prior to meeting with your contractor will allow you to be more open to process and realistic about what you can afford and wish to spend.


2. Anticipate your project needs and goals.

Before you begin the interview process, consider these questions:

  • Are you looking to remodel to sell; What will bring you the most return on investment?
  • Are you staying in your home to enjoy the space you are remodeling? How will you be using the space?
  • Is your budget restrictive and realistic based on your knowledge of similar projects?
  • Are you looking for the least expensive quote, or will you pay more if you believe the quality is higher and the workmanship is better?
  • What problems are you hoping this remodel will solve?
  • What are your must-haves for this project?
  • What is most important to you when hiring a contractor? Insurances, credibility, cost, timing, references?
  • If your budget is tight, are you qualified to serve as your own General Contractor?
  • Can your project be handled by a “handyman” or do you require project management, orchestration, and guidance with product selections and design?
    Researching your own needs first will help you select the right partner. Be sure to share the information with contractors throughout the interview process.


3. Recommendations rank high in terms of credibility.

Knowing the contractor has had the key to your parent’s or best friend’s home, and did a wonderful job on their project, can be all you need for reassurance. Contractors prefer client referred customers too, as trust is greater from the get-go. Utilize social media channels and community blogs to find and research local remodelers. Also, read reviews and testimonials pertinent to your project. One company may have reviews mentioning that a project took longer than expected but was of outstanding quality and came in under budget. If your project is not time-sensitive, they may be a perfect fit for you. The context of what you discover is important when you consider your identified needs and wants (from step two).

4. Visit their website and take note of personal values.

Learn all you can about your potential contractor’s history, experience, philosophy, and process via their website. View gallery pictures to see if they have completed similar projects. When you invite them to your home, does it feel like a stranger is walking in the door or is there an unspoken chemistry? Do they offer to take off shoes? Are they friendly to your children/pets? Their persona and values are signs of how they will respect your home. Know that the contractor is “checking you out” too. Confidence you will be a good client and follow processes/payment schedules, so the project will run efficiently, is extremely important to the professional.

5. Ask for and call on subcontractor and customer references.

Once you meet with selected contractors, ask for two kinds of references: people that work for them (subcontractors) and people they’ve worked for (clients). Call each one and ask similar questions, for comparative purposes.

By following these guidelines, when asked by the contractor sitting across your kitchen table, “What is your target budget for this project?” you will have the confidence and knowledge to answer honestly. Sharing your budget up-front enables them to give appropriate guidance for design and product selections from the start, for a quick and efficient quoting process. The ultimate benefit to choosing wisely other than a quality finished product… establishing a life-long relationship with a trusted partner who will work with you to preserve one of your most valuable investments…your home!