How to Choose a Builder for a Renovation or Construction


    Almost all of us go through renovation at some point of our life. Interior design and materials get out-dated within 20-40 years and property has to be remodeled to attract new buyers or refresh the look for existing home owners.

    But how to select a builder or general contractor to remodel your home? The job is not cheap, and literally home owners create an agreement with people they do not know for hundreds of thousand dollars. Each town or part of city has reputable companies, which posters you see everywhere, but there are many companies that are not well known to many.

    Remodel on Point created a list of criteria to choose builders for a renovation:

    • Reputation of Builder in Your Seize Renovation
    • Local Company with No Need to Travel
    • Matches Market Price and Within Your Budget
    • Experience in Similar Projects
    • Licenses for All Trades and Insurance
    • Examples of Previous and Current Projects
    • Clear Process and Schedule

    If you require further assistance in finding local builders to take on your renovation or construction project, our team is happy to help. All throughout the country we work with designers and renovation company on many jobs. Email us with details of renovation you need help with.

    Detailed Interviewing and Screening for Best Home Builder for Renovation

    After a long survey, we found that extensive home renovation is 3rd or 4th highest one-time expense during entire life of most home owners. How to choose a builder for a renovation project should not be based solely on price the give. Here are more detailed explanations for selecting home builder:

    Analyze reputation of renovation builder before hiring – what people say about this company? It is easy to run quick search in google for any specific company and if there is a problem it will pop up. Simply type in name of company and city you are located in. You can read local reviews, find relevant projects and any news article they were mentioned in.

    Why is it important to hire local builder – it is simple math and common sense. If builder and contractors have to travel every day, they will overcharge for it. Also they will not be as competent on more distant project and can miss many deficiencies during work.

    Estimate amount is never avoided – difference between estimate and contracted price is huge. True professionals are able to calculate even large projects to small details and give exact price for home renovation. Ask your builder if he is able to agree on set cost without changing it till the end.

    Condo project cost
    Couple calculating the cost of a condo project.

    Clean understanding and experience in same jobs – ask project manager to walk through steps of work and how it will progress every week or month. He should be able to answer all questions and create understandable process flow. Home owners are entitled to know details of the job they are paying for.

    Must have licenses for all the work – do not get sucked into conversations that technically there is no requirement or we are currently updating documents. Serious builders have necessary licenses and papers up to date. Due to high demand and clients constantly asking for these papers, they should have it available right away.

    Proof of completed or current work – completing at least several projects per year would guarantee references and pictures of work. It is understood that after work is done, home owners do not like to be contacted even if they were satisfied with everything. But there is always a possibility to show and explain ongoing projects (unless there are none)

    System in place for work ahead –larger builder companies have sophisticated platforms and software that integrate schedules, timelines, images, updates, material selection and communication into one stop shop application. Ask how they control the work flow and keep information on renovation job.

    Which Home Builders to Stay Away From

    When someone tells you to start work without competed agreement, it raises first red flag. There is no reason to trust anyone and just because they said work is going to be doesn’t mean they can’t just take your money and run away.

    Another trick contractors can use is agreeing prior to final drawings being completed. We advise all home owners to complete drawings, get building permits and only than to agree on all details with home builder with written contract signed.

    Be careful with renovators that want to take most of money upfront, before even start date. Yes there will be expenses for purchasing materials and scheduling trades but it should not be significant. Remodel on Point suggests paying 10% of total estimate as a deposit and afterwards creating a payment schedule for completed steps.

    You can download free payment schedule for construction and renovation projects on our website.

    If general contractor you are interviewing cannot provide any of the documents right away, there may be something wrong. There is no reason for operational remodeling company not to have insurance or any specific license to perform work.

    How to Choose a Builder for a Renovation Project with Good Reputation

    The supervisor works with the engineer
    The supervisor checks the construction project.

    In 2020s everything and anything can be faked. Be very careful who you give check to for renovation job to be completed. There are some insights that we want to share, which help understand quality and size of company.

    Contractors that have been in the business are very careful and try not to get involved in risky projects. They carefully measure and write down details you tell them. Ideal contractor comes for estimate in company car with sign, listens about what renovation is all about and then explains about their work ethics. So if someone just comes in and without analysis tells you job is $50 000, ask them how they got to this numbers.

    Online appearance is very important for small and large builders in computer and mobile era. Look for them on google, facebook, instagram and other project review platforms. Home owners leave enough details to understand what the company is all about. But do not concentrate only on positive or negative things. Even best contractors have unhappy clients, who can never be satisfied.

    First sign on responsibility is punctuality. How to select a builder for a renovation job if is late for meeting or estimate with basic excuses? How well can he keep work schedule? Your time should be as important as contractors’ you hire.

    What to Demand from Renovation Company before Signing Contact

    Home owners are less protected than contractors they hire by law; therefore we want to make sure you create enough security in contract details. Ask construction builder to include several items in the agreement that will favor client’s side.

    Schedule of every step is important in large renovation jobs, but not as important as completion date. Agree with builder on exact date he will finish the job, and create a clause for compensation in case timeline is not met. The amount should be enough to cover your rent elsewhere, while they are continuing to work.

    Contracts never have enough details, but always ask general contractor to include budgets for finishing materials. That way they cannot cheat and use lower quality items. For example for entire job, flooring materials budget $5 per square foot, tiles $4 per square foot, doors $140 each and so on.

    Always have last decision on what is selected to install in your home. We understand that prior to work most material selections are not made, but never give builder 100% of all decisions. Otherwise they will outsource cheapest doors, floors, faucets and tubs they could ever find.

    Steven H.
    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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