Monmouth County Remodeling Contractor Hiring Guide
Looking to hire a Monmouth County remodeling contractor for your next home project? This comprehensive guide will help you make the best decision for you, your family, and your home. It will help you to evaluate the scope of work for your project, determine which type of renovation contractor you need, and give you the tools you need to save time and money during the hiring process.
Hiring a Monmouth County Remodeling Contractor – Introduction
Let’s face it, building or remodeling your home is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime, so it’s important that you do your homework in advance. It’s the only way you’ll find the best Monmouth County remodeling contractor for you. Homeowners are usually at a disadvantage when hiring home improvement contractors because they simply are not qualified to evaluate contractors and their estimates effectively. It’s similar to taking your car to a mechanic – if you don’t know too much about cars, you will often feel helpless because you don’t know how to process and evaluate what the mechanic recommends.
Choosing the right Monmouth County remodeling contractor is also important because you will be working together for several weeks or months. The contractor will be in your home on a near-daily basis, you will have multiple meetings and phone calls, and you will make countless decisions together. Taking the time to hire the best remodeling company for you is one of the best investments you can make. If you hire a contractor that is not a good fit for your lifestyle and your project, you could be in for several long months of hard work.
The bottom line is that when you hire a Monmouth County remodeling contractor, you’re obviously looking for a quality remodeling firm for your kitchen, bathroom, or basement remodel, but you’re also looking for a personality fit. You want the contractor you choose to be honest, pleasant, trust-worthy, and dependable.
Monmouth County Remodeling Contractor Roles
A great Monmouth County remodeling contractor is a project leader who takes charge in planning the project, educating the homeowner, managing reliable subcontractors, arranging for permits and surveys, and coordinating with the design and architectural team where necessary. A contractor does not simply show up to your home and start ripping down walls. The company you hire should manage the project in a way that makes you feel confident and secure at every step.
Here are some of the roles of a great Monmouth County remodeling contractor:
The first step the contractor should do is sit down with you and all of the decision-makers in your household and establish a realistic budget for your project, based on the resources you have available and what you would like done to your home. This is the first step to setting clear expectations and starting the project off the right way.
Any great Monmouth County remodeling contractor will take the time to explain his or her processes, procedures, and systems for executing on a project like yours. They will be able to explain all the steps, including when payments are due, a timeline for the project, who will be coming in and out of the house, what they need from you to get started and on an ongoing basis, and more. Don’t proceed with a contractor if he or she can’t explain their process for working on a project like yours, whether it be kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, basement remodeling, an addition, or anything else.
The Monmouth County remodeling contractor that you choose will either have an in-house design team or will be able to work closely with an outside design firm or architectural firm. It’s important that, if you are using designs, that they are finalized according to your budget prior to the project beginning. Often, architects and designers will specify certain materials and fixtures in their designs because they look and sound great, but in reality they are out of your budget range. It is important that the renovation contractor has a solid understanding of the design and can clearly articulate it to you so everyone has the same expectations at the beginning of the project.
Any reliable Monmouth County remodeling firm will have subcontractors and trade workers that they work with regularly. You as the homeowner should not have to manage subcontractors and arrange their scheduling. This should all be done by your general contractor. This is a very important point: a top notch remodeling contractor, whether it be for kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, basement remodeling, or even home additions, will never blame his or her subcontractors when things go wrong or the project is delayed. A great contractor will always take responsibility for his or her subcontractors and not make their problem your problem.
Timeline and Payments
Time and money are two of our most valuable commodities, right? Therefore, the best Monmouth County remodeling contractors will give you a project timeline with a projected payment schedule prior to beginning your project. There will be milestone deadlines and payments during the project, and of course the final walk through and payment upon the completion of the project. The key is that there should not be any surprises during your project. Surprises are what often give homeowners anxiety and frustration about home improvement contractors.
Permits and Surveys
The construction firm that you hire will arrange for all relevant permits and surveys before, during, and after your project. Of course you can probably save a little money by doing this yourself, but it is a tremendous hassle, so you’re better off leaving it to the experts who do this sort of thing on a weekly basis and know how the process works. Again, if there is an issue with a permit or a survey, your Monmouth County remodeling contractor should take responsibility and not burden you with additional work on your part.
Where to Find Monmouth County Remodeling Contractors
We recommend that you interview and get estimates from three Monmouth County remodeling contractors before you make your final decision. Yes, this takes more time than just finding one contractor you like, but remember to keep the big picture in mind. Spending a few extra hours up front to do your homework and due diligence can save you a ton of time and thousands of dollars throughout the course of your project. So, don’t be so quick to begin your project. Those who are sometimes find themselves in a less than ideal position several weeks into their project.
So where do you find a reliable monmouth county remodeling contractor? Here are some suggestions:
- Ask friends and family
- Ask your local real estate agent
- Contact the NJ Builders Association or National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) chapter
- Browse local contractors on Houzz
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce
- Do your Internet research
- Consult New Jersey’s best local contractor directory – www.rebuildnewjersey.com
After doing a little research, you will have a list of about 5-10 local remodeling contractors. We recommend you keep a list and a file folder containing all your research. Organization goes a long way in making your remodeling experience an enjoyable one.
The next step is getting your list of 5-10 down to 3-4. You accomplish this by spending time researching contractors online. Now, not every reliable Monmouth County remodeling contractor will have a beautiful web presence, but most of them will. Review their websites, their Houzz profiles, and their Facebook pages and take notes. Here is what you are looking for:
- Evidence that they have completed projects similar to yours
- A little company history
- Testimonials and reviews from previous clients
- Project Portfolio
After doing some research online, you should be able to get your list down to 3-4 Monmouth County remodeling contractors. If there are any contractors that you would like to research further that do not have an Internet presence, don’t hesitate to call them and ask for some information. Tell them that you are looking to hire a remodeling contractor for an upcoming project, that you are evaluating several Monmouth County remodeling contractors, and you would like to see some of the above-noted information. If they aren’t able to provide you with any of that information, proceed with caution or don’t proceed with them at all.
How to Interview Monmouth County Remodeling Contractors
After you have a shortlist of about 3 NJ home improvement contractors that might be a good fit for your project, the next step is to set up meetings with them. Again, remember to keep notes on everything. You’re about to enter a long and slightly complicated process that can consume all of your free time if you are not organized and focused.
Also remember that you are hiring for their expertise, but you are also hiring for personality fit. There is a certain amount of ‘trusting your gut feeling’ when hiring a remodeling company. This is fine, but remember to use your gut feeling to confirm positive facts, not to cover up negative aspects of a contractor.
The first step is to make note whether they are courteous on the phone, in person, if they show up on time, if they’re clean and presentable, if they’re respectful of your home, and so on. These are seemingly little details that are very telling of a remodeling firm. If they don’t show up on time to the initial estimate, what makes you think they’ll show up on time to actually do the work?
The next thing to remember is that there are no dumb questions. After all, you are going through this remodeling process for the first or second time in your life; of course you are going to have questions. A good Monmouth County remodeling contractor will listen intently and take time to answer all of your questions.
Here are some sample questions to ask the home improvement contractors during the initial meeting:
- Are you willing to work with my designer to establish a final design and budget, or do you have a designer you work with for projects like this?
- What process do you have for determining the exact cost of my home?
- Do you have experience in the type of remodeling project that I want?
- What is your current availability and how long do you expect my project to take?
- Tell me about the subcontractors you would use for this project.
- What is your process for handling change orders and any other unforeseen conditions that may result in added time or cost?
- What warranties do you offer and how do you service your warranties?
A top Monmouth County remodeling contractor will also have a list of questions for you, such as:
- Do you have a design?
- Have you established a budget and proper financing?
- What exactly do you need done and what do you want done?
- What is your dream timeline?
- What is most important to you regarding this project?
- What is your lifestyle like? Do you cook a lot, entertain, etc.?
It’s obviously in your best interest to answer these questions as honestly and openly as possible, so the remodeling contractor can develop the solution best fit for you and your individual situation.
The contractor will then take ample time to complete some measurements, walk around your home, and probably ask you more questions. He will take notes on what he observes.
When the contractor is done, ask when you can expect to receive a proposal or estimate and make a note of it. If you do not hear back from a contractor after this initial meeting, feel free to follow up once or maybe twice, but do not pursue the contractor any further. If the remodeling contractor is too busy to deliver a proposal in a timely manner, you should move on to the next one.
How to Evaluate Estimates from Monmouth County Remodeling Contractors
When you receive estimates from different contractors, it’s difficult for the untrained eye to evaluate them effectively. That is because every contractor has a different approach to a particular kitchen, bathroom, or basement remodeling project and considers different factors when estimating.
The estimates should all be within a certain range. If there is a very low outlier or a very high outlier, you want to look at those estimates further to see why they are so different from the others. In the case of an extremely low, almost too-good-to-be-true estimate, be careful. Many contractors who are hungry for work will quote a low price at the beginning, but then constantly add things on as the project moves along. This is not the type of contractor you want to work with for several weeks or months, is it? In the case of a very high estimate, the contractor may not have understood the scope of work and/or your budget, so you might want to pick up the phone and have a brief conversation with the contractor to ensure he or she understands what you’re looking for.
You want the estimates to be as detailed as possible. If you are looking for more details or have questions, don’t hesitate to email or call the particular Monmouth County remodeling contractor to ask questions and ask for further clarification.
Take time to go through the estimates properly. If you have no idea what you’re looking at, perhaps you can ask a trusted friend or relative who is construction-minded to give the estimates a look.
After you have reviewed the estimates, your next step is to have a phone conversation with each of the contractors to review the estimates. Ask them to walk you through their methodology and their estimate. The best Monmouth County remodeling contractors will have no problem taking the time to do this.
After this round of phone interviews, you will probably have a good idea and a good feeling for the Monmouth County remodeling contractor you want to hire. When you decide on a contractor, it’s imperative that you contact him or her for some relevant information and paperwork.
Here are the things you should ask of your chosen NJ contractor:
- A sample contract and proposed methods of payment.
- A project timeline, including milestones and milestone payments.
- A list of the subcontractors they intend to use.
- A list of the homeowner responsibilities – what you have to do and when.
- A sample change order request and description of process.
- A sample warranty.
- Previous client references with contact information and addresses.
- Proof of contractor’s license and a way to verify it.
- Proof of insurance and a way to verify it.
Again, any reliable remodeling contractor will be able to furnish you with all of the above without a problem.
Evaluate all of this information and ask questions where you need clarification.
Then, be sure to follow up with their past client references. This is an extremely important step that many people skip because they don’t want to bother people. But the truth is, if this remodeler does great work, their past clients should be excited to tell you about their experience and their beautiful new home.
Here are some questions to ask your Monmouth County remodeling contractor references:
- Were the original estimates accurate?
- Was the project on time?
- Was the project on budget?
- Were the financial aspects and payments clear and transparent?
- Did the remodeling contractor communicate the schedule clearly?
- Was the project clean and organized?
- Were there any unexpected aspects of the project, either positive or negative?
- Would you hire this contractor again?
If you feel comfortable with the reference, you can ask to visit their home to see the finished project. Not all references will be open to this, but you might get a chance to see the project up close and personal before you commit to your chosen Monmouth County remodeling contractor.
Assuming all goes well up to this point, you are ready to review the contract. Please do yourself a favor and spend $500 to have an attorney review the contract with you. This may seem like an added expense, but it can save you money and a lot of headaches in the long run. Remember, this is all new to you, and that’s okay. It’s best to have someone review the contract who is in the business of reviewing contracts. You will have peace of mind and will be able to sleep better at night.
If everything is still positive, you are ready to hire your Monmouth County remodeling contractor! If not, go back to your short list of contractors and repeat this above process until you hire the contractor best fit for you and your project. Again, this is a time-consuming process, but it is worth it. Remodeling your home is a large investment in both time and money, and the result is something that you will have the pleasure of enjoying for many years. So please spend the time and energy up front to ensure that you make the best decision you can.
Hiring a Monmouth County Remodeling Contractor – Conclusion
This is a time-consuming process, but it is worth it. Remodeling your home is a large investment in both time and money, and the result is something that you will have the pleasure of enjoying for many years. So please spend the time and energy up front to ensure that you make the best decision you can.
By following the steps outlined herein, you will be more fit to navigate this complicated process and feel confident with your upcoming project. There are dozens of local remodeling contractors out there who can do a great job on your home, but finding the contractor that is the right fit for your exact project is the key to a successful project and happy home.
Monmouth County Remodeling Contractor – Local Areas We Serve
We are dedicate to remodeling homes in Monmouth County NJ, especially Middletown NJ and the surrounding areas of Rumson NJ, Fair Haven NJ, Little Silver NJ, and Holmdel NJ. We also service Ocean County NJ and surrounding towns along the Jersey Shore.