Harpel's

Over 25 Years in Business

 

Choosing The Right Contractor!

Finding a Contractor You Can Trust

A remodeling project is not like buying a car. When shopping for a car the product is usually always the same at all places. When shopping for a contractor the remodeling project will always vary from one remodeler to the next. Low ball bidders are almost always a mistake. Some low ball bidders don't even finish the job they started, others fill the walls with inadequate building materials and take all kind of short cuts to get the job done. Usually the end product always shows inferior quality work. Although low ball bids are very tempting, I encourage you to do your homework on these people. Ask yourself, how can a contractor give you quality, if they only hire cheap helpers to do the work on your home? In the past year Harpel's Contracting And Remodeling has fixed, repaired, or finished such projects of this kind in the Butler area.

Some homeowners feel prospective contractors won’t be completely honest about cost, and fear being tempted by appealing promises or low-ball estimates.  

The abundance and variety of construction horror stories leads others to believe there are only unqualified contractors out there ready to take advantage of the unsuspecting.

Feeling confident you’ll choose well is very difficult. If we add to this mix of doubt and dread the haunting thought that your "dream home" and thousands of dollars are at stake, the burden’s enough to keep many from ever starting.

Most contractors will post signs promoting their services in front of homes where they are working. Also, look for other clues like tradesmen’s vans or trucks, or construction dumpsters. Whether you see a sign identifying the contractor or not, knock on the door and speak with the homeowner.

Better contractors understand that if they do a good job, they’re usually guaranteed more work in the neighborhood. There is no better source of leads than a happy homeowner, so the best contractors will work hard to leave a legacy of satisfied customers.

Another source of leads is friends or colleagues at work or school, clubs, professional organizations, or charity or service organizations you belong to. BE BOLD!! The more people you ask, the more names you’ll be able to gather.

There are other sources for names of contractors, but they aren’t as dependable. For instance, you can use the phone book. But, are you willing to spend thousands of dollars based on an ad from the Yellow Pages?


Past customers
Anyone who has recently completed a custom renovation wants to talk about it. These folks are overflowing with information from this once-in-a-lifetime experience and are full of stories they want to share. Your visits with them will be well worth the time.

Not only do they have fresh memories of the stories, characters, and events, but they remember their emotional roller coasters as well. Your connection with these homeowners will be valuable both for the information they provide and the perspective they bring. They’ll want to share their highs and lows with you because they’ve been there and they know how you’re feeling at this point in the process.

They’ll not only give you the name of their contractor and a view of the finished product, but share their design ideas and what they learned during the process.

Most veterans I interview feel their experience qualifies them as experts. They really understand the process and, given a second chance, would always do some things differently. They feel they have a great deal to share with "the uninitiated" about how it really went, what to expect, and how to cope with delays, changes breakdowns, and the general upsets that accompany such an undertaking.

Don’t hesitate. Your request is quite reasonable: you want a bit of their time, a peek into their home and their opinion of their contractor. Call them now!

1.Discover the quality of the homeowner’s experience with the remodeler. Was the contractor competent at all points in the process? Would the homeowners use him again?  2.Examine the project for possible design ideas. Notice how you feel in the new space. 3.Try to assess the quality of the workmanship. Look closely at the project. 4.Ask how well the builder predicted the cost of construction, specifically the preliminary estimate compared with the final cost. They usually will NOT be the same, but find out how far apart they were and how easy it was to arrive at a final contract price.

Six to twelve months after a job has been completed is an excellent time to interview homeowners. During that interval their contractor will have responded to some warranty item claims. (Note: the industry standard is a one-year warranty on all labor and materials installed by a contractor not covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.) Because better contractors address warranty claims quickly and thoroughly, such claims are a very good test of their reliability and professionalism.

You’ll find that visiting custom renovations is an excellent source of design ideas. Ask the homeowners how they arrived at their particular choices. This information will both help focus your own ideas and develop your understanding of the design process.

In your walk-through tours of these different homes, you’ll begin to appreciate the different levels of attention to detail and quality of finish. You’ll begin to discern what makes a good drywall job -- smooth, blemish-free walls and ceilings with invisible seams. You’ll begin to recognize quality interior trim work where the joints are tightly fitted -- in contrast to poorer jobs with gaps and misalignments. You’ll begin to appreciate that better builders stay on top of all details all the way through to the end of the project.


HERE IS A LIST OF ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ASK HOMEOWNERS

1. Could the homeowners communicate well with the remodeler or builder?

•Did the builder listen to their concerns? •Did the builder respond quickly to their questions and requests? •Was the builder easy to speak with?

2. Were they pleased with the quality of the work?

3. Were they satisfied with the builder or contractor’s business practices?

4. Did the contractor add "value engineering" and provide price checks?

5. How close was the contractor's preliminary estimate to the final contract price?

6. How did the builder and homeowner resolve any differences that arose during construction?

7. Did work crews show up on time?

8. Were the homeowners comfortable with the subcontractors the builder used?

9. Did the crew clean up daily?

10. Was the job completed on schedule?

11. Did the contractor fulfill his contract to the homeowner’s expectations?

12. Did the contractor stay in touch with the homeowner throughout the whole project?

13. Was there a project manager on site every day?

14. Was supervision adequate?

15. Was the contractor easy to reach when the homeowner wanted to reach him?

16. If the homeowner hired an architect, how well did the builder work with that architect?

17. Did the remodeler hold regular progress meetings with the homeowner?

18. Were final details finished in a timely manner?

19. Would you use this contractor again without hesitation?

20. Was the remodeler trustworthy?

21. Do you feel that you got good value for the money spent?

22. How has the builder handled warranty claims?

23. Would you recommend the remodeler, unconditionally?

The more you learn, the greater your comfort. The greater your comfort, the greater command you’ll have over the selection process.

Come prepared with a camera, pen and paper or a tape recorder. Be sure to ask for permission to take notes or photos. You’ll want records of what you learn as you begin to compile a list of possible remodeler.

Finally, list the contractors you've gathered information about, ranked from best to worst, based on what you know so far.

As with homeowner interviews, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to ask any questions you may have. Nothing is off limits concerning your project or the company you’re interviewing. Asking good, detailed questions is the heart of your due diligence.

If you don’t question thoroughly, you’re giving up your responsibility in this process and possibly compromising the quality of your project.

If you do, you're a lot more likely to end up with a contractor who can build you the project you've been dreaming of, without compromising your sanity or financial security.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phone: (724)283-4529

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Last modified: September 11, 2016