It’s inescapable, intriguing, imaginative, and exciting. It’s remodeling your home. But, before you tackle the project, make sure you choose the right Milwaukee remodeling contractor.
Home Improvement Projects are on the Rise
You and your family have been staying close to home for months now. You all agree that it’s time for a few changes. Your house is no longer working for everyone, and it needs some major renovations. The kitchen is outdated and cramped; you’d love to have a master bedroom en suite; you’re outgrowing the existing space, and adding a large den would give everyone more room for their activities. Working from home means you now need a quiet office for making calls and doing paperwork. While you’re at it, finishing the basement into a warm and cozy living area would be great.
For many homeowners, choosing the perfect paint color, cabinet door style, or decorative shower tile is much easier – and more fun – than finding the best remodeling company. But because even the smallest renovation can be stressful, more expensive than anticipated, and often uncover surprises, it’s essential to choose wisely.
Choose Your Remodeling Company Wisely
No matter what your project may be, choosing a remodeling company is the most important step in the entire process. There are many excellent contractors, but how do you find the right Milwaukee remodeling contractor for you? You may have heard horror stories about contracts, price changes, and disappearing workers from your friends and neighbors, and you want to avoid that happening to you. Choosing the right remodeling company can make the difference between your project being a nightmare or a dream.
Being Your Own Remodeling Contractor
While some homeowners consider being their own contractors and managing the project themselves, this is not a good idea. You may save a little money in the short term, but if there are any slip-ups, accidents on the job or the timeline falls behind, it becomes more expensive in the long run. Also, you already have enough on your plate. Being the contractor means finding and hiring carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and painters, then you need to be on the job to answer questions and make sure things are running smoothly, etc. Do you have time for all that?
Be smart and hire a professional contractor to manage everything. A Milwaukee remodeling contractor already has a team of tradespeople they know and trust. If a sub-contractor doesn’t show up to the job site for some reason, the team leader can make a call and get things done immediately. How long would it take you to do the same?
Therefore, consider the following suggestions below. They will help you find the best remodeling company that can keep everything running smoothly while finishing your project on budget and on time.
Decide What You Want to be Done
Deciding on what you want to remodel may seem obvious, but before you call anyone, determine your remodeling project. Sit down with your spouse or the entire family and discuss your priorities. Making a list of what you’d like to change will help. Do you need another bedroom or bathroom? Do you want more storage? Are there any structural issues like a leaking roof or a cracked foundation? Are there projects that can wait, or is it better to have everything done simultaneously? If you want to add rooms to the house, determine how large you want the addition to be. Knowing the issues will help you come up with the best solutions. However, be open to what a contractor may suggest as well.
What Do You Envision?
Many contractors concentrate on specific types of remodeling projects, and the scope of your job will influence what builder you hire. Some builders are better at certain things than others. For example, it’s better not to hire a contractor who builds beautiful decks and outdoor spaces to remodel your kitchen.
So, what kind of design do you envision? Something elegant or casual? Rustic or polished? Collect ideas from magazines and websites or wandering around big box stores. Select a few finishes and note the prices. If you can be specific with the contractors, you will get a more accurate estimate from them.
Your Remodeling Goals
Here is a topic most homeowners don’t consider: what are your remodeling goals? Why are you doing this project? Is it because you want to make a good profit when you sell it in a few years? Is this your “forever home,” and you want it to be more comfortable for the next 20 years? Are you getting older and need to make changes to age in place after retirement? Is your house the smallest/oldest/least expensive in the neighborhood, and you want to remodel to “catch up?” Understanding the reason why you want to make changes is just as important as the “what.”
Know Your Budget
Knowing how much you can spend may limit the size and scope of your project. Not many homeowners have an unlimited budget. Remodeling projects can uncover structural issues or problems such as bad plumbing or outdated electrical wiring. Additionally, contractors must follow current building codes and regulations. So, it will most likely be more expensive than you realize. Be prepared to pare down your dreams to a more manageable size or divide it into multiple projects over several years.
Now that you have the above steps taken care of, it’s time to hire a Milwaukee remodeling contractor from a list of remodeling firms. Because there is a wide variety, here are some ways to narrow down your choices:
Get a Few Suggestions First
Do you have any neighbors, friends, or co-workers who’ve had some remodeling work done recently? Ask them about their experiences. Do they recommend their contractor? Were they happy with the process and the results? Was it easy to work with the team? Were all their questions answered? Did they stay on budget, or were there too many financial surprises?
Keep a list of builders they recommend and those they don’t. Referrals from someone you know and trust will increase your comfort level. Consider asking a few local real estate agents if they know of a good contractor. Being involved in the housing industry, they may have a better idea of who is out there.
Research, Research, and More Research
Before you contact any Milwaukee remodeling contractors, do some research online. Although it will take a little time, this step is necessary, and a better outcome is assured if you do. Look at each contractor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. Scan reviews on Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, and the local Builders Association. Look at their website and Facebook page (if they have one). Review their’ before and after’ photos to see if they do the work you’re looking for.
General contractors should be licensed, so don’t forget to check court records for potential problems or litigation. These people will be in your home, and you want to know who they are!
Also, remember that just because a contractor did an excellent job remodeling your best friend’s kitchen doesn’t mean they can build an addition to your house. Keeping all of this in mind will help cut down the list to just three or four remodeling contractors.
Interview Your Prospects
When you have narrowed down your list, call your potential contractors. Don’t rely on email. You’ll be working with these people for several months, and you want to know how they treat their clients. Are they short with you? Too busy to talk? While being busy is not a problem (good builders often are), it’s how they handle the important issue. Are they polite and ask if they can call you back later, or do they ignore your voicemail messages?
A contractor should also be happy to show you a project they are currently working on or recently completed. Ask to take a tour and check the quality and integrity of the framing, the finish carpentry, and all the detail work. Ask questions of the prospective contractor. If they can’t or don’t answer to your satisfaction, or say something that makes you uncomfortable and unsure, this is not the right builder for you. Move on to the next name on your list.
Making the Decision
There’s nothing wrong with comparing bids from a few Milwaukee remodeling contractors. However, to be sure the bids are equal and comparable, give them all the same detailed list of products and a drawing/blueprint of what you want. A builder can’t give you a realistic bid without knowing the scope of the project. All proposals should include the same materials, describe the same remodeling project, and offer a timeline and pricing.
As you review the bids, don’t automatically choose the least expensive one. Make sure they haven’t left anything out, helping their proposal to be lower than the others. See what products they intend to utilize: drywall, tiles, flooring, countertops, etc. Is it what you asked for, or have they found a cheap substitution? At the same time, many contractors have developed relationships with suppliers and negotiate a lower price, passing the savings on to you. Make sure you know the difference.
Communication is Key
If you notice something is amiss, or you’d like to make a change, it’s much easier to fix a problem sooner rather than later, so speak up! You’ll probably talk to the contractor or someone on staff every day. Even if it means spending a little more money, hire someone you feel comfortable with and can communicate with. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion – it’s your house after all.
One more thing – the best Milwaukee remodeling contractors are busy. Don’t be disappointed if the one you hire isn’t able to start your project immediately.
Before You Sign a Contract
Never sign a contract until all parties are satisfied, and you agree on all the details. The contract should list what work will be done and by whom, their deadlines, and the materials they will use, including the model number and prices. It’s next to impossible to make changes or be sure it’s done correctly unless everything is documented in writing. Don’t do business on a handshake!
If you need to add more details to your contract, write them down and make sure everyone signs it. Go into detail such as what hours and days the workers can be in your house, which family members and workers will be there, how often the boss will check-in, whom to contact in case of emergency or problems, and even the bathroom tradespeople should use.
If, during the process of remodeling, you change your mind as to what materials should be used or the size of the room, for example, a change order must be written. This order lists the added cost, new materials used, if there will be a time delay to the project, and the work to be done.
Many contractors will ask for 30% of the total cost before the job begins, especially if expensive materials (granite slabs for countertops, specially designed cabinets, etc.) are needed immediately. Then another 30% halfway through the project, and the final amount after the job is complete.
If this is not the case for your project, before the job begins, you should only pay about 10%. The contract should explain when the payments are due and how much they are. Unfortunately, unexpected things often happen during remodeling projects, so be sure to set aside another 10 to 15 percent more than the project costs. If your budget is $40,000, you should have an additional $4,000 to $6,000 available, just in case.
Most importantly, until the job is finished and you are satisfied with everything, do not make the final payment. It is challenging to get a tradesperson to come back later to fix something if they already have your money!
Joseph Douglas Homes and Remodeling
With so many remodeling contractors around, do yourself a favor and cut through the hassle. Save yourself time and energy and contact Joseph Douglas Homes and Remodeling. Once you talk with founder Deron Butler or one of his friendly and helpful staff, you won’t need to call anyone else.
Joseph Douglas has been a leader in the remodeling and home building industry in southeastern Wisconsin since 1998. Joseph Douglas Homes takes pride in everything they do and use fair pricing, quality craftsmanship, and superior design to bring a homeowner’s vision of their remodeling project to life.
For more than 20 years, their work continues to be honored with national and local awards. This company has an A+ rating from the BBB, received M Magazine’s “Reader’s Choice Award” as part of their “Remodeler of the Year Awards” twice, and have the highest rating from Angie’s List a business can receive.
To keep our customers satisfied before, during, and after their remodeling project, Joseph Douglas Homes goes to great lengths and keep the communication lines open. They strive to make clients’ dreams come true from the moment of the first meeting until the final walk-through.