Before Hiring, Interview Your Contractor

Today, I wanted to talk about a couple of ideas concerning hiring a contractor that I feel would be helpful to homeowners. Our industry doesn’t talk about it much, but due diligence before contacting a contractor is very important. From my perspective, there are two different ways that you can actually contact a contractor and help them EARN your business.

1. Getting 3 Quotes

One way to find the right contractor is to get three quotes. Many people are familiar with this idea. That’s what my parents told me to do whenever I’m going to do anything. Get three quotes… that’s kind of the traditional way of handling things. I think that’s good in some ways: if you’re doing a roof job or if you’re doing something that’s really cut and dry. If you have all the information and all of the specs for the scope of work that you want to do, it can work. At that point, you can tell three different contractors the exact details of what you want to have done and they can bid off of that. That’s fair and easy. Although, I have discovered in most cases this scenario is rarely the case.

Most projects are what we refer to as a design-build project i.e. remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, additions, etc. All of these different components of a construction project have to be taken into consideration. An example of this type of solution is the complete remodel that we recently contracted in Kings Grant, Virginia Beach. They’re going to be redoing every space in the house. As a client, how can you get a handle on all of the ins and outs of how a project will work so you can get three competitive bids for the same scope of work? It would take a long time to be able to put all of that together. As well, there’s a good possibility that you don’t have the knowledge or experience in this industry to manage the process effectively.

2. Interview the Contractor

What’s another way that you can tackle this without having to use the three contractor mindset? From my perspective, the best way that you can choose who’s going to do your project is to interview somebody. We interview our clients. We have prerequisites. We send out a survey or questionnaire so we can better understand your project. Some of the questions a client will see include:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • What is the scope of work?
  • How many phases?
  • What’s your timeline?
  • What’s your budget?

Many people take that for granted and just fill it out and send it over. They say, “Come on out and tell me what it’s going to be. Tell me how it’s going to happen.” In reality, we use the questionnaire as an interview process to make sure that potential clients are the right type of clients that we can serve. We’re not the best at everything. If your expectation is one thing and the contractor’s is completely different, how do you figure that out with out wasting each other’s valuable time?

We want to focus on helping clients do their due diligence. Educate yourself before you actually contact a contractor. A useful website to help you with due diligence is homewyse.com<http://homewyse.com/>. HomeWyse allows you to learn the cost of materials, labor and repairs for any type of home renovation project. You can even input your zip code so that you can get a competitive idea of what different things cost in your specific area. Now you have a proper expectation of what is feasible before you even have a contractor come to your house. You can start to interview the contractor instead of having someone convince you of a certain way to do your project. You can find out if you like that person and if you want to work with them. If so, you can release the scope of work that fits your budget and your project will be built around your specifications. It’s impossible to do that without doing your homework in the beginning.

Like Shopping for a Car

Let’s say you want to buy a car. You want to get a Beamer. That’s what your family needs and you know you deserve it. You go to the BMW dealership. You test drive to BMW. You run through all the ins and outs with the salesperson. You spend an hour or two with the salesperson and then you say, “My budget is only $20 Grand.”

You’ve gone through all of this process. You’ve worked with the salesperson. You’ve taken their time. You’ve also taken a lot of your own time and you have mismanaged expectations. Now you leave disappointed that you didn’t get the Beamer. Instead of being excited about a car that would actually serve your needs, now you don’t have what you expected.

The same concept applies to home remodeling. If you have a Volkswagen budget, let us know that you have a Volkswagen budget. We can still provide you with a really nice Volkswagen. Again, not every contractor is for every client. Not every client is for every contractor. Do your homework ahead of time. Do your due diligence and I think you’re going to find that it’s going to make the process a lot easier on you and possibly a lot more fun.

If you have any questions about due diligence in finding a contractor, contact us.

Glen Sweitzer, Jr.

Glen Sweitzer, Jr. is a second generation contractor, born and raised right here in Virginia Beach, VA. As an athlete for his entire youth, Glen learned early that nothing comes without hard work and dedication to excellence.