Friday, July 4, 2014

Selecting Your Remodeler: Check References

Selecting Your Remodeler: Check References

Some tips for getting the most from this important step

Homeowners who fail to check their remodeler’s references do themselves a disservice. After all, a reference check is an easy way to avoid trouble and an important confirmation that hiring a particular company is a good choice.

Consider talking to current and past clients and possibly subcontractors. Utilize these guidelines to get the most from the referrals offered by your remodeler.

Questions for current or past clients

The obvious general questions for clients include the type of project, what did and didn't go well, if it was finished on time and on budget, and if they would recommend the remodeler. Other questions include:

Is the company organized? Do the company's managers deliver on promises or are they forgetful? If the remodeler's business is chaotic, don't expect a stress-free project.

Does the company keep deadlines and schedules? Small things, like being on time for meetings can be important factors in determining homeowners’ satisfaction. If the company does great work but is often late, the homeowners need to decide if that’s a problem.

Did the finished project meet the homeowner’s expectations? This reflects the remodeler’s skill at writing detailed specs and setting realistic expectations.

Does the crew treat the homeowners, their family, and their property with respect? This includes things like keeping the job clean, parking in agreed on spots, and not using colorful language. Simple courtesy goes a long way.

Does the remodeler get along with others? Construction is a team effort, and the best contractors have good working relationships with everyone. This includes others professionals (architects, interior designers, subcontractors) as well as family members and neighbors.

Don't jump to conclusions because of one negative answer; instead, get the remodeler's side of the story. For instance if there was trouble with a neighbor, it may have been a difficult individual who was simply unhappy that work was being done next door. These types of follow-up conversations set the stage for honest communication.

Questions for subcontractors

Few people think to ask subcontractors—electricians, plumbers, and so on—for references. If the answers from clients are satisfactory, there’s no reason to go here, but it’s an option if blanks remain to be filled in.

Possible questions include:

What are the remodeler’s lead carpenters like to work with?
Is the job ready and prepped for the subcontractor when promised?
Do the subcontractor’s invoices get paid on time?

Any reluctance on the part of the builder to provide references is a red flag. A forthcoming attitude is a good sign that the builder values transparency and is secure in his or her reputation.

Warm Regards,

Doug Abbott
Village Builders

This is an excerpt from a newsletter that is distributed to all former, current and future clients of Village Builders Inc.  If you would like to receive this newsletter feel free to email me at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc

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