In my last blog post, I discussed steps to narrow your list of potential remodelers via a phone interview. Once you’ve followed my process of internet research, talking to other homeowners, and conducting a short phone interview, you should have come up with a remodeler “short list” of your top candidates. In this post, I’ll take you one step further in the process to walk you through your first face-to-face meeting with these builders.
Before we even get to the meeting, let me state definitively that all principal parties should be present at this initial and all subsequent meetings. This includes the remodeler and BOTH spouses, if applicable. Given the number of interviews you (and your spouse) will have, plus the number of subsequent design and planning meetings you’ll have once you settle on a builder, this may seem unreasonable. But it’s absolutely essential for all parties to participate fully in this process and for everyone to operate with equal information.
Firstly, in this new relationship, common courtesy is a must, and good remodelers understand this. If a builder fails to show up for your first meeting and does not call to reschedule, immediately cross him off your list.
Listed below are questions you should ask during your first meeting with your potential remodeler:
- How long has the company been in business?
- What is their permanent address? Some professional contractors will invite you to visit their office. This is a great opportunity to see how they do business. Are they organized? What procedures to they have for producing your project?
- Is the prospect licensed to work in your area?
- What year was the business initially licensed?
- What will the payment or draw schedule look like?
- How does the company ensure warranty service complaints are effectively handled?
- How does the company maintain good customer relationships throughout the construction and warranty period?
- In case of any accident, is the company insured against workman’s compensation claims, property damage, or personal liability?
- Who will be assigned as the project or site supervisor?
- Who will be your contact if that person is not available?
- Will there be a supervisor on site full time?
- Will they be providing a written construction schedule?
- What’s the company’s routine regarding regular meetings with the homeowners during construction? Who will attend those meetings? Will the builder personally attend every meeting?
- Can you expect to see workers at the site every day?
- Does the remodeler plan to stay personally involved in the project at all points?
- Will the builder provide the names and numbers of five homeowners you’ve completed projects for to do a reference check? Make sure to check out my next blog post on 22 Important Remodeler Reference Check Questions to Ask Other Homeowners for a good idea on what information to collect.
- Will the builder allow you to visit a site where work is in progress? A visit to a site in progress can reveal much about a company’s ability to manage a large project. Notice how organized it looks. Is it messy and chaotic or does it seem well-organized with workers moving like they know what they are doing?
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. In fact, it should help you generate other, more personal questions relevant to your specific project.
I cannot encourage you strongly enough to ask any questions you may have. Nothing is off limits concerning your project or the company you’re interviewing! Asking good, detailed questions is the heart of your due diligence. If you don’t questions thoroughly, you’re giving up your responsibility in this process and possibly compromising the quality of your project, and maybe the value of your home.