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How to Hire a Remodeler
Part 2: First Face-to-Face Meeting

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:

BUSINESS IDENTITY:

  • 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?

BUSINESS PRACTICES:

  • 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?

BUILDING PRACTICES:

  • 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.