Finding the Right Professional to Remodel Your Home

Filed in Construction by on December 2, 2014

Right-Professional-Mainby Amanda Peterson


One of the best decisions you can make in a home remodeling project has less to do with design or products and everything to do with finding the right professional match. The right contractor will bring your project from concept to creation with quality building skills, coordination of good subcontractors, open communication, honesty, and a love for building and remodeling.


So how do you find the right contractor? Ask.


“I would begin by talking to lots of other homeowners who have recently gone through the process,” says Jerry Swedberg, co-owner of Swedberg Wood Products, Alexandria. “Get as much information as possible of things to look for in the remodeling process.”


A trip to your locally-owned lumber yard wouldn’t hurt either.


“The employees there know who does the high-quality work and who may be best suited for your particular job. They deal with the contractors on a daily basis,” says Warren Anderson, owner of Warren Anderson Construction, Nisswa. “It’s amazing what you can find out when you start asking questions. It’s easy to do and is time well spent.”


You can also start gathering names through the National Association of Home Builders ( and its local chapters. Visit contractor’s web sites for more information and photos of their work.


Contact Contractors


Once you have a few names, it’s time to make some calls. Contact a few contractors and briefly describe your project, budget and timeline. Then, ask a few questions, including:


• How long have you been contracting?

• Are you licensed and insured?

• What is your availability?

• How long will my project take?

• What types of projects do you handle most frequently?

• Who do you use for subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, painters, etc.)?

• What experience do you have in hands-on construction (rather than general contracting)?

• Can you connect me with two or three clients who could speak about your work?

• Where can I see photos of some of your past projects?


Gather Project Bids


Ask for bids from the contractors who impressed you most. They will visit your home, take measurements, ask you many questions about your goals for the project, discuss timelines and budget, and share any recommendations or ideas they have along the way.


As a homeowner, you can help this process by keeping a folder of photos or magazine pages of ideas. These can give contractors a better understanding of your vision. Include notes about colors and materials. The more you know about what you want for your project, the easier it will be for the contractor.


“It is important to spell out the scope of the project in detail, especially if the homeowner is getting more than one bid,”says Dave Anderson Construction, Moorhead.


Finally, know your budget for the project.


“With your design and material specifications, a professional contractor will know if your budget is realistic and it can be built the way you envision,” says Corey Normandin, owner of Nvision Building and Remodeling, Moorhead.


Review Bids


Once you receive the bids, look over the documents carefully.


Steve Miletto, CEO of Area Lakes Construction, Underwood, recommends paying close attention to start and finish times, quality of materials, onsite conditions, allowances for changes or unexpected items, and payment terms.


Ask for an itemized bid to break down the costs. Inquire if permit costs and taxes are included. You should even ask specifically about what is not included.


“Make sure you understand the bid,” Swedberg says. “You have the right to ask as many questions as needed until you feel comfortable.”


As you compare bids, you may be tempted to take on the general contracting yourself – hiring subcontractors and overseeing the project. While it could save you money, it takes a strong understanding of the building process, a considerable amount of time, diligence and good scheduling skills.


“Always look for a general contractor,” Miletto says. “Unless you are experienced in coordinating projects and are able to meet those goals, you should not attempt it.”


Listen to Your Gut


Choosing a contractor goes beyond the bid. Look for honesty, interest in your project, timeliness and good communication.


“Communication is very important when remodeling a home,” Normandin says. “Understanding how the contractor works and what the owner’s expectations are will make the project run more efficiently.”


At this point, you should have a general sense of which contractor is the best match for you.


“When it is a good fit between builder and homeowner you just know because it feels right,” Warren Anderson says. “You have checked out the work they do, looked at references, talked to people they have been involved with and you know it is a good fit.”


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