Whether you’re renovating a historical home, building a new addition, or simply remodeling an outdated kitchen, there’s nothing more exciting than deciding that now is the perfect time to get your much-anticipated project underway.
Hiring an experienced and reputable professional contractor to get the job done can mean the difference between a seamless, well-organized project that delivers outstanding results, or one that’s beset with delays, consistently over budget, and winds up missing the mark.
Much like a first date, your first meeting with a contractor can tell you almost everything you need to know to determine if they’re the best fit for your project. Here are a few important things to consider.
Before Your Meeting
No matter how big or small your design project happens to be, it’s going to require a significant amount of time, energy, and hard work (not to mention a serious financial commitment) to knit your ideas into a cohesive vision, and then bring that vision to life.
You already know that you’re looking for an experienced contractor with a proven track record; you’d also like to work with someone who keeps the lines of communication open, understands your objectives, listens to your concerns, respects your time, and offers honest advice.
Before you schedule an initial meeting with any contractor, you should:
- Gather any project ideas and information you’ve collected.
- Prepare a comprehensive list of “needs” and “wants.”
- Determine your desired budget and your maximum budget.
- Compile a list of specific questions for the contractor
Once you’re ready to put a meeting on the calendar, consider how easy it is to get in touch with the contractor to schedule an appointment:
- Did someone answer the phone right away?
- If you left a message, did they return your call promptly?
- Did they follow up with a confirmation email?
These things may seem incidental, but they’re actually a good indicator of what you can expect if you end up choosing this contractor for your project.
During Your Meeting
When you’re about to sit down with a contractor for the first time, you probably already know a bit about their reputation and level of craftsmanship.
While your initial meeting can certainly help you learn more about their experience as well as their standards, it’s also the perfect time to assess their professionalism and gain insight into the kind of working relationship you can expect to have. The following considerations should factor heavily into your selection process:
- Did their representative arrive on time for the meeting?
- If they were running late, did they call or text to let you know?
- Were they professional and presentable?
- Did they listen attentively to your ideas and goals?
- Did they ask questions, take notes, and collect information?
- Did they help you understand how they manage projects?
- Were they able to answer all of your questions?
- Did they set expectations for the next step in the process
An exceptional contractor respects your time, listens to your needs, asks questions, works to get a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish, and truly values the opportunity to be part of your project. A successful first meeting should leave you feeling satisfied that:
- The contractor is fully licensed, bonded, and insured.
- The contractor is organized and easy to reach.
- The contractor is committed to keeping you informed.
- The contractor has high standards for their trade partners.
- The contractor has good relationships with their suppliers.
A successful first meeting should also leave you feeling confident that your project is in the hands of a professional team of designers and builders that truly cares — a team that will do its best to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.
For more tips on what to look for in a contractor, download our Guide to Hiring a Remodeler. It’s full of useful information, a questionnaire, and a scorecard to aid in the contractor/design-build firm selection process.