Category Archives: Hire local contractors

Is Competitive Bidding the Best Way to Hire a Kitchen or Bath Remodeling Contractor?

Bellingham complete kitchen remodel by Rose Construction Inc.

You may have had the question posed to you: “Do you want to fly in an airplane that you know was built by the lowest bidder?”

Hiring the contractor with the lowest bid for a remodeling project may be just as foolish. So the question then is, why? Let’s look at some of the reasons:

You won’t have complete plans for each contractor to look at in order to get an “apples to apples” bid. So the honorable contractor will include all the elements (like molding, light sockets and so on) that are not on the plans, but should be. An inexperienced (or shady) contractor will not include those things, and therefore will give you a lower bid.

When it is too late to change contractors, you will have to pay for those extras.

Some people get bids in order to see how much the project their architect designed will cost. That takes an enormous amount of a contractor’s time for a job he may not get. Many contractors will no longer do competitive bidding.

Since competitive bidding is still viewed by some as the only way to control construction costs, lowest price may be over emphasized at the expense of quality, value and service. A contractor who does engage in the competitive bidding process incurs the expense of estimating as well; and, because that contractor usually has to bid a number of jobs in order to secure one construction contract, he/she has to work that expense into his/her pricing on contracted projects to recover costs.

What are the alternatives to competitive bidding? Find an excellent contractor (whom you judge by face-to-face meeting, talking to staff, talking to references, visiting prior jobs, searching to internet, considering awards and professional certifications), and an excellent architect or designer (judged by the same criteria), and put these two stellar individuals together to design and build your remodel.

Or hire a design-build firm where the designer and builders are in the same firm. This way, when the designer comes up with an idea that would blow your budget, the contractor will make that known immediately.

Or, if your project doesn’t need a designer or architect, go with a reputable contractor that you have done your homework on.

Bath remodel by Rose Construction Inc

Bath remodel by Rose Construction Inc. 4 by 4 built-in tiled shower with 1/4 inch clear tempered glass enclosure.

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Remodeling – does it have to be traumatic?

There are some who have had bad experiences, but that doesn’t have to happen to you. Lets examine some of the fears or myths that poor contractors have created due to incompetence, dishonesty or just poor communication:

  1. Will projects always run longer and cost more than you expected? It’s a common misconception that all contractors underbid and overpromise. Proper planning and research will alleviate these concerns. If you define the project in a proper contract with little to no allowances, you’ll avoid things like over budgeting and extended timelines. Check out your contractor with the local BIAW, state licensing, and personal references.
  2. Is your handyman is qualified to complete a kitchen renovation? (See the last sentence above). There’s a good chance your local handyman is not licensed, so there’s an even greater chance he’s not trained in kitchen design. If you decide to hire your handyman for a big project, be prepared to hit snags along the way. And if he isn’t license, you could be fined for hiring an unlicensed contractor.
  3. Should you get plans before researching contractors? Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to get plans before hiring a contractor. It is recommended that your architect and builder work together on your project, or consider hiring a design-build firm, where everything is in-house. Both of these options will help your project go more smoothly and more quickly.
  4. Is it unavoidable that your house and yard will be trashed during construction? Proper site maintenance should be a top priority of every contractor, and many do take proper measures with dust control and the protection of your belongings. Always tour the job sites of those contractors you are considering to see how they treat existing projects.
  5. Can you save money by hiring an out-of-work relative or friend? If your family member or friend is a trained professional, sure, but don’t assume anyone can paint, frame or tile. Mistakes made to your home can end up costing you a lot more. When it comes to your biggest investment, it’s always best to hire professionals.

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NAHBR – National Association of Homebuilders and Remodelors

Why should you care if your home remodelor is a member of NAHBR?  Well, first off, what is it?

Founded in 1982, NAHB Remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders represents and serves the interests of more than 14,000 remodeling industry members.

The Federation of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) exists to represent the home building industry by serving its members and affiliated state and local builders associations. The NAHB members, who are involved in all aspects of a diversified building industry, create jobs for millions of people and contribute significantly to the economic activity of their community, the nation and the world.

The NAHB strives to improve housing affordability, availability and choice. To achieve this mission, some of NAHB’s goals are:

  • Public appreciation for the importance of housing, housing affordability and those who provide housing.
  • Recognized premier resource for industry and consumer information, education, research, technical expertise and networking.
  • Improved business performance of its members.

The NAHB provides education to its members and we are proud to say that Rose Construction Inc’s own DyLon McClary is a graduate of the CGR training program. CGR stands for Certified Graduate Remodelor and means that you are doing business with an individual who is committed to continuing education and professional growth and will bring exceptional skill and knowledge to your project.

To become a CGR, a remodeler must have at least five years of experience in the industry, take a qualifying exam and successfully complete a pre-set curriculum of courses specific to the remodeling industry, including project and business management.  

In addition, CGRs and GMRs are required to carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance and maintain a valid business license, where required by their state or local jurisdiction. Upon earning the designation, they must sign a Code of Ethics specific to their designation. CGRs and GMRs also are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education related to building and remodeling every three years. 

To find a CGR for your remodeling or renovation project or home addition, go to the NAHB designations directory and search by state or ZIP code.

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Is the lowest bid the best bid?

Home exterior remodel

The blog “Kathy’s remodeling blog” has a very informative article titled “Why competitive bidding doesn’t work”.  If you are not sure of this, ask yourself if you would like to fly in a plane knowing the airline manufacturer who built it was the lowest bidder.

As Kathy’s blog explains, the contractors bidding will not have complete plans and so will not have complete information to bid on. An honest contractor will include everything he expects to encounter on the job, such as moldings, light sockets and etc. A shady contractor will not include them, and will have a low bid.

During construction these things will have to be added, and the costs will go up. So, what should you do to avoid this? Kathy’s blog suggests:

“So, what to do? I suggest you find an excellent contractor (whom you judge by face-to-face meetings, talking to staff, talking to references, visiting prior jobs, searching the Internet, considering awards and professional certifications), and an excellent architect or designer (judged by the same criteria), and put these two stellar individuals together to design your remodel. Find the great people first, then move forward as a team.”

Kathy’s blog lists additional resources and information on how to hire the best contractor for your job.

There is a humorous (and true) story highlighting why you should thoroughly check out the general contractor before hiring. (At Rose Construction, Inc. we work with the same subcontractors year after year, and know them well.)

From the Deseret News in Salt Lake City:

 “Handyman steals pills, jewelry, then passes out in clients bedroom.”  This fellow was hired to do some work on a woman’s house. When she arrived home at 7:30 pm, she found his truck still in her driveway. She called the police after finding things disturbed in the house. The police arrived to find the man passed out in her bedroom with some of her prescription medication scattered around him. They found some of her jewelry in his pockets.

I suspect the Darwin principle got this guy out of the business, but he might move somewhere else and inflict himself on another unsuspecting client. Don’t rely on the lowest bid to get a good contractor – do your homework and verify they are honest, reliable and have a good reputation in the area.

 

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How much will your kitchen or bath remodel cost?

This is a question we are asked at some point with every remodel project. Clients of course, want a specific dollar amount but with all the variables before a project has even begun that is a complex question. 

An article that discusses the complexity of estimating the cost for a home remodel is in http://www.remodeling.hw.net/estimating/pricing-research.aspx?rssLink=Pricing+Research

Some of the variables are:

  • After the project has started, owner upgrades quality of fixtures.
  • Unknowns such as rot found in the walls and floor when a bath tub is removed.
  • Scheduling and clean-up.
  • Cost/ availability of special or customized materials.
  • Safety and environmental issues.
  • Design complexities.

The article recommends going online to get an idea of what it would cost to do the remodel you envision. However, when you get to asking for bids, do not expect all contractors to give you the same price.

Quality is a big issue. Would you want to fly in an airplane built by the lowest bidder? If you want quality and safety, you are not as concerned with getting the lowest price you can find for that airplane.

Similarly, skilled, reliable home remodeling workers who will do the job right are more important than getting the lowest bid out there. In addition, quality materials cost more than low-end items that will not last as long or look as nice as you thought they would. Another consideration is that the lowest bid may have a lot of add-ons or change orders.

So, realize that putting a price up front for that remodel is not as easy as “so much per square foot”, and include the cost vs. quality in your equation!

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Blizzard related remodeling

There are several effects a blizzard can have on remodeling.  First is, imagine you are stuck in your home or apartment for 3 days.  Normally you would be at work, walking the dog, taking the kids to school, soccer practise, running errands.  But no, you are stuck at home, can’t get out the front door. 

After the first hour or two, you begin to notice the cracked tile in the shower; then the color of the flooring starts to annoy.  By the second day, the nicks the kids made in the kitchen countertop are especially irritating.  A couple of weeks later you find yourself calling local contractors to arrange some remodeling.  Thats the first effect of the blizzard.

The second is this: You already have a remodeling project in motion.  Now the materials can’t get delivered on time and the contractors can’t get up your driveway.  Besides that, they can’t work outside when it’s snowing and minus 10 degrees. 

You can check out this scenario at ArticleSnatch.com.  The article is titled Dream home remodeling: Is it really a dream?  The author has some excellent suggestions to help reduce stress during a remodeling project:

  • Be prepared – Don’t start your project until the design/ plan is completed.
  • Budget – Have a budget and stick to it.
  • Get help – If you are not an experienced contractor then don’t try to act as your own general contractor. It will be worth your money to hire someone else that is trained. Plus the  amount of stress a general contractor can relieve is worth its weight in gold!
  • Relax – At times this may seem impossible to do, but finding time to relax during your project is absolutely essential. Schedule time if you have to.

The elements (i.e.- blizzards?) – Weather can be another huge stressor when it comes to building and remodeling projects. There is nothing you can do to control the weather or even predict it. Plan ahead for possible delays due to weather – it will reduce your stress level!

Remodeling mood swings

Remodeling Funk Chart

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Whatcom County local independant businesses rank high

The local newspaper, Bellingham Herald has an article titled “County ranked No. 2 in U.S. for vitality of indie retailers”.  What this means is residents know that it is better to deal with local companies than multi-nationals. 

Local shops, contractors and suppliers care whether you, the customer, are happy with your purchase or service.  For the most part, multi-national retailers only care about the bottom line – did they make a profit from their transaction with you? 

Local businesses want you to come back, they need you to be a satisfied customer, and they also know what locals want in a product or service.  So they will work hard to provide that. 

While we have a great many wonderful, skilled businesses in Whatcom County, don’t forget to do your due diligence in getting referrals and word of mouth recommendations, just to be on the safe side!

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