Room remodel

Finding a quality contractor can be hard! Credit: Brock Builders, Flickr

Interior design often goes hand-in-hand with home remodeling. Homeowners who are already investing in a new interior design will often take the plunge and go for the total transformation that requires some remodeling. Many of the clients I work with have never done a major remodel of their home before. The process of finding an honest, high-quality, and reasonably priced contractor can be difficult and/or confusing. That is why I always suggest that my clients reach out to several remodeling contractors and ask each one these important five questions:

  1. When will you be available to start?

Many contractors cannot start on a project right away. In fact, it’s not unusual for smaller firms to be backed up for months. It is not necessarily a bad thing if a remodeler has a long wait time. It means they are popular! However, if you have a specific timeline in mind, you may need to reach out to larger firms that employ several crews.


  1. How long will my project take?

Don’t expect an exact end date for your project before all the details are finalized. However, your remodeler should be able to give you an approximate timeframe for the project after doing a home review and getting a sense of the scope of your project. Smaller remodeling companies will likely take longer to complete the project. Beware if a company gives you a suspiciously short timeline. They may be trying to win the project by creating unrealistic expectations.


  1. Can you help me understand all the details of your quote?

Trying to compare price quotes between contractors can be hopelessly confusing. The quotes from some companies can fit on a napkin, while other companies practically hand you a thesis paper. Make sure you understand everything that is included in the quote and where all the major costs lie. The best way to understand each quote is to ask the remodeler to walk you through it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the remodeler isn’t responsive or communicative, that’s a big red flag. These issues will almost certainly come up again during the project.


  1. Can I contact previous clients?

Every remodeler will post some testimonials on their website, but these only represent their happiest customers. Ask your potential contractor if you can contact past clients. No contractor should shy away from this request. When you get the contact information, reach out. Ask the previous client how well the company communicated, whether the project came in around budget, and if there were any delays. Ask about problems that came up during the project and how the company dealt with them. No company is perfect and no project is flawless, but you want to make sure that a company treated its clients well, provided good communication, and was able to effectively resolve conflicts.


  1. What happens if there’s a problem?

Problems crop up during every remodel. Maybe the contractor opens up a wall and realizes that refitting the pipes is going to be much harder (read: more expensive) than they thought. Maybe you come home and discover that the beautiful egg shell paint looks nothing like the swatch. It could be that the wrong tiles show up, adding an extra week to the project. Get ready for issues and make sure your remodeling contractor can handle them as well. You want your remodeling contractor to be honest about issues they’ve faced in the past and to show a high regard for keeping clients happy.

These questions are a great start when it comes to finding a good contractor for your home remodel, but don’t forget to get referrals from your friends and family. Your interior designer can also refer you to remodeling companies he or she has worked with successfully in the past. We interior designers have worked with dozens of different companies, and we know a good contractor from a bad one.

If you are remodeling a home in San Diego, Las Angeles, or anywhere else in Southern California, contact me for a contractor referral.