You know how it is when you’re hungry for something? If you think about it long enough you can almost taste it! My family loves Vietnamese food; crispy spring rolls, flavorful Pho, fresh salad rolls… it’s one of our favorite food choices. We have a particular restaurant that we know very well, and consistently visit and recommend to our friends and family.
Recently, we were in an area of the city that we aren’t familiar with, and because our favorite spot was quite a drive, we decided to try a restaurant in close proximity; randomly selecting one from the street front. At first glance it appeared everything we were used to; although there was only one other table occupied we weren’t too concerned and were seated quickly. The prices on the menu were substantially lower than we were accustomed to, and thinking we had stumbled upon a ‘hidden gem’ we were excited to try a variety of items! When the food arrived however, we realized it was not what we were expecting. Cold, bland and flavorless, it was a true disappointment considering the comparison to our regular fare and how excited we had been to try it.
This experience got me thinking; what “value” do we place on quality? I would happily have spent another $50 on the meal to have fully enjoyed the experience, rather than pay discounted prices and be disappointed. I believe this holds true for various situations, including home renovations and general contractors. So many of us look at only the bottom line of a project estimate, not considering any other factors. When a decision is based solely on price, we forget to ask important questions such as warranty, post completion service, and quality of work.
Quality is really what it comes down to… are we willing to save a few thousand dollars only to find door casings gap, floors are uneven, and when we try to have the issues resolved we find our contractor unresponsive? Unfortunately the ‘renovation nightmare’ is all too real. Many people have been sold on an initial low priced estimate, only to realize once they get into a project that the contractor is either incompetent to complete the work, or waiting until a contract was signed to hit them with a myriad of change orders. Sometimes you would be amazed at what is NOT included in an initial quote!
The mantra ‘you get what you pay for’ really is true, and when you’re investing in your family’s home and lifestyle you want to be thrilled with the end result! Will it be worth it to save $10,000 or even $20,000 only to be disappointed and daily regret the choice of your contractor? How can you be sure that the one you choose will deliver your project as promised? If you are able to receive a referral from a friend or family member this greatly helps with the choice; word of mouth is the best way to determine a company’s integrity, and honest feedback from someone you trust will go a long way towards making sure your experience is a good one. If you are seeking a contractor on your own, here are a few key things to ask for:
1) Up-to-date Licenses. Ensure that your contractor not only has a Prepaid Contractor’s License through the Government, but also a Business License for the city you reside in. These are both required by law in order to collect money from a homeowner.
2) Insurance. The contractor must also carry a Certificate of Insurance that will protect both you and them, should an incident arise on your site. A qualified contractor will carry at least $5,000,000.00 liability insurance.
3) A list of past clients you can call for references. The integrity of a company is best described by the clients they have worked for. Ask for a list of at least ½ dozen references that you can call and even visit in their home to see the workmanship for yourself.
4) A professional and well maintained website including a gallery of past projects. Initial research online will indicate the company’s overall level of professionalism, and a gallery of completed projects is essential to see the type of projects they do, as well as the quality of workmanship they provide. Testimonials and client reviews are also indicators of a quality contractor.
5) The best way to make a decision is to meet the contractor yourself. You must be comfortable with the contractor you choose, as you are placing a huge level of trust in them by hiring them to work in your home. Taking the time to choose someone you feel comfortable with and communicates well will go a long way in making sure your experience is a good one. Meet them in your home and get a feel for who they are and how they operate – go with your gut; if something seems off or you feel like they’re blowing smoke it’s best to move on to someone else.
Before making a decision based on price alone, ask yourself how much value you place on quality… quality of workmanship, as well as quality of character. These are both key requirements to ensure your project goes smoothly and you are able to enjoy the results for years to come!