Being in the remodeling and addition industry for sometime now, I thought I had heard most of the questions a homeowner could think of to ask about the process. Last week while in a client meeting for an addition to their home, the client said, “I have a strange question to ask,” to which I answered, “what is that?” He said, “in the process of interviewing contractors for the addition, some of the people that show up and have calluses and splinters, but you don’t.” “What does that mean?” In all of my years doing additions and remodeling, I had never heard that question asked before, and found it interesting. It’s a pretty deep question actually, and more people should wonder.
The difference between someone who claims to be a remodeler or addition specialists can be many, but a few things come to mind immediately. When you build a home, does the builder have calluses and splinters? Probably not. Most people want to buy from a builder that manages his projects, not personally swings the hammer. If you think about it, building a house, remodeling your house, or putting an addition on a house is a major decision. Who you choose to do this work is even more important. When you build a house, there’s not a family living there, but when you remodel or put an addition on, your family is living there. When your family lives in the house, your choice of remodeling or addition contractor is even more important. Trust is a huge factor.
Remodeling or putting an addition on your house is more about project management than whether or not your contractor is a “jack of all trades.” Lets use putting an addition on your house as our example. Putting an addition on your house is like building a house, but this time your family is already living there. An addition has several different stages. It starts with planning, site work, foundation, framing, roofing, electrical, etc.…. It’s more about management than anything else. You want your addition contractor to use “specialists” for each phase of building an addition, not a “jack of all trades.” It’s hard to be good at managing an addition if you are digging, laying block, framing and so on. In other words, getting calluses and splinters.
One of the more important facets of managing an addition is the financial management of the addition and the business itself. Not that it’s impossible, but how good do you think someone is likely to be at managing the finances (your money) of the business and running the office, if they are swinging a hammer all day and getting splinters. Oh, does this contractor even have an office or is he operating out of the back of a van with a cell phone? All of this is a factor when determining who to choose to build your addition or remodeling project. If the contractor doesn’t have a place of business, project management skills and a staff you may want to think twice before hiring this person as your remodel or addition contractor.
Before you decide which addition or remodeling contractor you use ask yourself these questions. Where can I visit this contractor? Do I want this addition contractor at or in my home, or near family if I am not there? Am I comfortable with this addition contractor learning the inner workings of my family, because you learn a lot about a family when you are working on or in their house? Does this contractor have a Class A contractors license, and show it to you? Does the addition contractor have Workers Compensation insurance, or did he just say he did? Lastly, in a world where most people struggle to manage their own checkbook, do you trust this addition contractor to manage your $150,000 dollar project? If you answered yes to all of these questions and have a good “gut feeling” about a particular addition contractor, they are probably a good choice.
J & S Builders is a Veteran Owned Small Business. John Schwaebler, MSM is a Retired US Navy Veteran and the writer of this Blog. His business partner, Steve Basciano is a US Navy Veteran as well. Send in your questions and comments and we will do our best to answer them.