You have been dreaming of that new recreation room addition to your house for over a year now. You saved your money or built-up equity in your home to pay for it. Now, you are ready to go. But, where do you go to get a quality home improvement contractor that will complete the work on time, for a far price, and still do a good job?
There is an old axiom that states that there are three factors for every project. The first one, we will call option “A”, is time, how long will the project take to complete. The next factor, “B”, is quality and features. How good and how must stuff. The third factor is the “C” factor and that is Money! How much?
You now have a choice, you can pick any two factors but, you cannot have all three. If you want the job done on time and completed on schedule then you can spend a lot of money and get the quality and features you want (A+B). If you want the job completed on time for a low cost then, you will not have many features or the quality will suffer (A+C). Finally, if time is not an issue, go with the B+C choice. High quality at a fair cost but, will take time.
When it comes to home improvement contractors there are general categories that they will all fit into. The first category I like to call the “Bob Vila” of contractors. Very well known, an excellent reputation, has all of the right licenses and insurance, provides very high quality work, and all work is completed on schedule. This is by far the best type of contractor to hire if money is no object! Expect to pay considerably more than your average contractor. A good rule of thumb is to figure the material costs, plus the labor costs, and double that. This is what the average turn-key project will cost if you hire a general contractor, not a Bob Villa. Add about 50% more for this category of contractor. Check references however, this contractor will not give you anyone that has anything bad to say.
The next option is the contracting company that has their own employees. This company will take the whole job from start to finish. I call this the “turn-key” contractor. If the company is good, they will be booked for months in advance. This is the “Time Factor”. If you have the time to find this company, check the references, and visit some of the job sites, this may be your best choice. Be sure to do a good reference check and make sure you know the questions to ask! Of course they will only give you the names of satisfied customers.
A new choice entering into the market is a cooperative. This is not a new idea, but new to home improvement. Just like the farmers co-ops that have been around for years, contractors and sub-contractors have banned together to share the overhead costs. Cost such as advertising, a very large part of the budget. By combining their funds and run one large ad in a major newspaper, for example, they can have many sub-contractors in non-competing trades.
They may have a electrician, a few plumbers, drywall subs and so-on. I can think of about 90 different categories. The idea of a co-op is to combine resources for the common good of the group. The co-op has standards to prevent poor workmanship and dishonest members. The co-op’s reputation is on the line.
The last choice and I do mean last, is the low-ball contractor. Low price almost always means low quality. Face it, you get what you pay for. Get three bids, and unless you know all of the trades and are very familiar with the project you should be very cautious about the lowest one. Why is it lower? You should always do an extensive check on this company. It would be worth it to hire a third party firm to check out the company.
Well, good luck on your project!