While it is true that building and construction prices are more competitive, it is also true that many builders and contractors need to make more money off each project because there are fewer of them. Herein lies the problem. The residential building and design market has become flooded with contractors and designers that have been laid off from their commercial jobs and are picking up residential projects to help them get by. On top of this influx of commercial professionals, there has been on overall decrease in the number of actual projects. Anytime you have more sellers and less buyers, the advantage goes to the buyer; however, buyers beware.
• Reputation and References: Only hire reputable professionals that provide you with current references that you actually call and talk to. Don’t hire your neighbor’s friend from church who works out of his 1985 pick-up truck.
• Residential Experience: Do not hire a commercial professional to do a residential project. The two building types are completely different animals. Would you take your child to a vet or your dog to the pediatrician? I hope not.
• Get Drawings Before You Build: If your contractor tells you he doesn’t need drawings to build from, don’t believe him. That’s like going into surgery without the x-rays or ultrasound. You’ll have no idea what you’re getting into. Contractors know that with quality floor plans, details, and elevations they are required to give you what you expect at the price they quoted you. Without drawings, they can constantly raise the price because they can claim that they didn’t know you wanted doors and windows included in the cost of your new bedroom.
• Don’t Automatically Go With the Low Bid: The lowest bid is rarely the best choice. Get at least three bids and if one bid is significantly lower than the others, then they probably left something out or they don’t know how to estimate. Ask your designer to review the bids and compare them with you.
• Desire Quality not Quantity: Bigger isn’t always better, so don’t sacrifice quality building products or methods for more space. Your renovation done right will add value to your home and life, but poorly built additions and renovations will actually decrease your home’s value and result in headaches and repairs galore. If you don’t know the difference between high quality and poor quality building products and methods, you need to hire a designer that does.
This is great time to take advantage of some lower construction costs, but there are also more people willing to take advantage of you in the process. Don’t be afraid to pursue those renovations and additions you’ve been dreaming about. Just be smart about who you choose to help make them a reality.