how to choose a REMODELING contractor

Selecting a Design-Build Partner

How do I choose the right remodeling contractor?

You’re ready to remodel but are still in the research phase, gathering information to choose the right remodeling partner. You might already feel overwhelmed by the number of options and the pressure to choose a reliable company. Before going too far, it’s important to understand that Design-Build and Bid-Build are two distinct models. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges, so you cannot evaluate them side by side directly.

Bid-Build vs Design-Build

A design-build contractor provides both the project design and construction. Some contractors may act as designers, while others may collaborate with designers or architects. A design-build contractor manages and controls the entire process from start to finish. They take your ideas, craft a design, work through pricing, and then complete the construction of your project.

A bid-build model involves a separation of design and construction responsibilities, requiring the homeowner to manage and coordinate between the designer and the contractor.

Myth: “I need to solicit three bids for my remodeling project”

The common advice (not from any remodeling professional) is to solicit three bids. From a homeowner’s perspective, it seemed that by obtaining bids from three different companies, they could make an informed choice in selecting a contractor. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Here’s why: How do homeowners know what is included in a bid, what construction methods are being used, or the differences between the proposals? The Bid-Build model can present several problems. A contractor in a “bid mentality” knows that the client will be seeking a lower number. I have heard numerous times that “we are not going to go with the lowest number,” yet, from experience, people often choose the lowest bid. To provide a low number, contractors use various tactics, such as forgetting to include certain items, hiring the cheapest subcontractors, using inferior materials, and employing substandard building techniques. These are just a few ways to be the “low bidder.” Most of these issues only come to light after the project has started, which is the worst time to discover them. At that point, you have little choice or recourse to make changes.

Your design-build contractor will likely have trusted sub-contractors like “Super Dave” here. We’ve been working with him for years.

Find Expertise in Both Design and Budget

Choosing the Right Design-Build Contractor

Choosing the right design-build contractor involves finding someone who can expertly manage both the design and budget aspects of your project. With responsibility for construction, they understand associated costs and incorporate them into the design phase through value engineering. This contractor guides the project from initial discussion to final completion, delivering results that meet both your needs and your budget.

  1. Interview and Research Candidates: Before selecting a design-build contractor, it’s crucial to interview and research multiple candidates. Talking to at least three candidates allows you to gather different perspectives and assess compatibility.
  2. Ask the Right Questions: During the interview process, ask specific questions to evaluate each candidate’s expertise, experience, and communication style. Don’t forget to request references and follow up with past clients to gain insights into the contractor’s track record.
  3. Understand the Design-Build Advantage: Recognize the unique benefits of the Design-Build model, including integrated design and budget considerations. A good design-build contractor works closely with you to align design ideas with budget constraints from the outset.
  4. Embrace Transparency: Understand that you are going to be working with this person for three, six, or twelve months. Be sure you will be able to work with this person for that long of a time. Opt for a contractor who values transparency and will involve you in design discussions, present creative ideas along with cost estimates, and work iteratively to ensure informed decision-making.
  5. Select Early, Collaborate Often: Contrary to traditional approaches, selecting a design-build contractor early in the process fosters a deeper understanding of project nuances and facilitates a collaborative relationship from the outset. This approach minimizes the risks associated with comparing disparate bids and leads to more successful outcomes.

In our Design-Build process, we include both design ideas and costs at each meeting with our clients and work from general ideas to very specific ideas so our clients can make informed decisions on both design and costs in the design and estimating phase. We then know the systems that we will use to construct the project. This method has proved well for over 50 years of being in business.

Smooth process, caring people, thoughtful design, quality construction.

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