3 Things You Need to Know as a Homeowner Before Moving Forward with a Contractor

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Signing on a home remodel can be an incredibly exciting time in a homeowner’s life, and that makes it easy to want to rush right in. When you talk with a contractor that is ready to promise you the perfect renovation, it can be tempting to move right to signing—but you probably shouldn’t.

“Wow, this contractor said they will be able to do great work, and we can sign today!”

“You probably don’t want to do that just yet. Let’s make sure you have the right information first.”

These are a few things you need to know before you agree to move forward with a contractor.

How Much is it Going to Cost?

Price is one of the most important factors involved with a home renovation, and it is one that can also make or break your remodel. Working with a contractor on a remodel is a very large expense, and this is what makes it so important for you to know what you will be expected to pay.

“This contractor said the price should be $30,000, but we should leave the budget open in case anything goes wrong.”

“You never want to sign an open-ended contract. They should be able to tell you exactly what you will owe, then discuss any changes later.”

Remodels can vary by price significantly—by the tens of thousands. Given their potential to be very expensive, it is absolutely necessary to know the exact price you are agreeing to pay. You should never sign an agreement involving an open-ended price tag.

Signing an agreement that doesn’t have a specific cost is very dangerous for homeowners. In truth, it is something that a reputable contractor will never agree to either. If a contractor is trying to push for this kind of arrangement, it is a good idea to look for someone different to work with.

How Long is the Project Going to Take from Start to Finish?

Your timeline is a crucial part of any remodel, and it can impact you in a lot of different ways. A clear timeline is a must-have feature with any project that you agree to work on. You should know what the timeline is from start to finish for this project, so you always know where you stand.

“They said we can get started soon!”

“Great! When?”

“I don’t actually know…”

Without a clear timeline, you will never know what step your renovation is in during the process. You can find yourself waiting for the project to be complete, and the contractor that you’re working with can take as long as they want since they didn’t agree to a specific timeline. In general, knowing your timeline is just a good piece of information to have. It can even make you more excited throughout the renovation process.

It is important to understand that very few timelines are exact. Sometimes, issues do come up with the renovation. Your renovation might need to be delayed because of the weather or even because of delays receiving materials. These things do happen, but there is a difference between a company that provides a clear roadmap and communicates any changes and a company that simply tells you that it will be done when they are done. High-quality contractors always know about how long a project should take. 

Do You Need to Leave Your Home?

Every renovation is different, and some renovations can be a bit taxing for the individuals that are going to be living in the space. If you’re running a full remodel that includes a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a bedroom, you can expect a lot of noise and a lot of traffic. Understandably, you might not want to be there for the remodel.

“If they’re going to take a while and be making all that noise, should we be home?”

“They didn’t say anything, so I’m sure it’s fine…”

We generally say that if a homeowner is only changing one room, they can stay in the space. Unless you’re really sensitive to certain noises or you just don’t want to share a space with your friendly neighborhood contractors, these renovations move fairly quickly and likely won’t cause many problems. However, this can change when you increase the workload.

If you’re having more than one room renovated, there is a good chance that you won’t want to be present for the process. It can get loud, and there will be a constant flow of people in your home. The team will be talking, using loud tools, and moving freely to and from the room in question. We completely understand that this doesn’t work for everyone.

Your contractor should clearly communicate what you should expect and whether or not you should stay in the home during the process. A good contractor will always advise you on what to expect and the varying levels of comfort or discomfort that can come with each stage of the process. Certain considerations, like children or pets, should also be a clear point of discussion. While you might not mind the noise, your newborn or a nervous dog just might. This is an important discussion to have before you sign, especially if they expect you to be out of the house for an extended period of time.

The Takeaway

It can be really exciting to work on a home remodel, and we understand wanting to do everything that you can to get the process started—but a little patience can go a long way. Before you ever sign an agreement with a contractor, make sure that you know exactly what to expect and what is expected of you. Ensuring that you know the exact price, timeline, and housing situation can really help you to have a more positive experience. More importantly, these decisions can protect you and your family, so you have a positive experience and really get to enjoy your remodel!

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