Tips for Choosing a Home Builder

Deciding you’re ready for a major remodel or home addition is the first step in a complex process of planning, budgeting, and decision-making. You’re most important decision will be selecting a contractor to manage the job. To get you off to a good start, we offer these tips for choosing a home builder.

Know Your Budget

Determine a budget for your project, including a percentage for contingencies—those surprises that can happen when renovating or adding on to an older home. Identifying how much you’d like to invest and the absolute maximum you can spend will help your builder make realistic recommendations about what you can accomplish with what you’ve got.

Know What You Want and Be Specific

There must be a reason you want to remodel, renovate, or build an addition to your home. Spell it out clearly. You may want to update the look of your kitchen but not change the floor plan. Or perhaps you want to knock down walls and open space to connect the kitchen to the living room. You may even need to add a new first-floor master suite. Being specific about the results you’re seeking will define the scope of the project and help contractors create their best bids for the job.

Ask Around

You may have seen a recent renovation or addition in your neighborhood that you admire. Ask the homeowner who their builder was and whether or not they had a positive experience. Be sure to ask about how responsive the contractor was, if they communicated clearly, and finished the project on schedule. You should also seek recommendations from friends as well as read online reviews and look over the websites of contractors your friends recommend. Make a list of three to five contractors to talk to about your project.

Interview Prospective Contractors

Different builders specialize in different areas of homebuilding. Identify companies that have experience in the type of projects you want to complete, such as kitchen renovations or whole house remodels, and consider the size and scope of the projects they build. When you have your list, contact the contractors and ask lots of questions, such as the following:

  • How long have you been doing this type of work?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Can you provide three references?
  • Do you provide warranties or guarantees for your work?
  • How many projects are you currently working on?
  • What is included in your services? (for example, handling the permitting process)
  • How long do you estimate a project like mine will take?
  • Can I live in the home during a project like this?
  • How do you protect your workers and my family’s health during the project?

Examine Estimates or Bids in Detail

The contractors you seek estimates or bids from should be able to provide a detailed plan, including how they’ll spend your money on fixtures, appliances, and materials. A contractor should be able to prepare a schedule of allowances for these things that spell out exactly how your budget will be applied to both materials and labor. Read all the fine print and ask questions. Remember, the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid for your project. Select a builder who communicates readily and clearly. Gannage Design & Construction is a design-build firm in Paso Robles with experience in remodeling kitchens, building additions and decks, and whole-home remodeling.

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