Sunday, December 26, 2010

Contractor Q&A.

Christmas has come and gone in a flurry of excitement, anticipation, chaos, anxiety and joy! We had a wonderful Christmas with both Jeff's family and mine and had a great time making Christmas special for our girls. A few traditions we do in our own little family include Christmas Eve Eve ice skating at Centennial Lakes, our advent calendar that we buy little gifts for each day for the girls (Rosemary tells people that the gifts are from Jesus;-), reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas' on Christmas Eve and Jeff and I watching Christmas Vacation while wrapping gifts (and watching it about a million other times throughout the season!)

The girls all ready for ice skating

We just plopped Gloria's carseat in a sled and dragged her around

It's the day after Christmas and our tree is down (I couldn't take the needles any longer), the decorations are packed away (how Scrooge of me) and it actually feels good to have celebrated...and now to be looking ahead to the new year. I feel like we do holidays HARD in our family...packing each day with festivities and when they are finally over, it's nice to switch our time and energy on to the next thing.

That next thing, in our case, is our remodel. This week starts off with two separate general contractor meetings. Both of the contractors we are meeting with were recommended to us by our architect. We felt that it was so incredibly important for them to be builders who had worked with her in the past as she will be the one primarily managing the project through construction - alongside the GC. Past contractors we have worked with have had 'attitudes' about architects - may not respect them, like taking the easier route vs thinking through the details thoughtfully, etc. The architect really acts as an advocate for the homeowner, so having a builder that respects the architect and their vision/craft is 100% essential. As far as we are concerned, we'd be fine with our architect choosing whichever builder she wants. But, she has a point when saying that WE are the ones that will practically be living with this person for several months - we need to make sure we click with them (she gave us a list of about 5 different GC's...we are starting by interviewing her top 2).

So, thus starts the interviewing process. I'll hold off on sharing the names of the people we are choosing from as this blog is not meant to be a gossip or slandering site...he he. I will, however, share with you a few of the questions we have floating around in our heads that we are eager to ask them.

Contractor Questions
- What are your work hours (aka: what time are you going to be coming to my house and leaving my house as I need to figure out where the heck my kids are going to nap)
- May we see a previous kitchen/exterior that you have done and speak with the homeowners?
- What age of homes do you typically work on? Have you done many homes in Minneapolis?
- How long have you been licensed in Minneapolis?
- How close do you typically come in on your budgets?
- How much time will you yourself actually be working on the project?
- How often do you check in on sub-contractors if you are not doing the actual work?
- At what capacity do you work with the architect? Weekly meetings? Phone calls, etc?
- How does your payment plan work? How much to get started? How often are draws made from the homeowner? How much to finish?
- What is your relationship with your sub-contractors? Do you always use them same ones or have several bids?
- What size of projects do you typically do (new house construction? Kitchen/bath remodels, etc)?
- How long is this project going to take and how do you see the project progressing?

Of course, the big question is what is the project going to cost? From what we've heard, it's not unusual to wait 3-5 weeks to get numbers back. It's also not unusual for the GC to request a chunk of time on a particular day to bring their subs through to bid out their portion of the project. We have also learned that just because one contractor comes in with a lower number doesn't guarantee you that the project will end at that number. Some contractors will intentionally bid the project low in order to get the job...but ultimately charge you for miscellaneous things throughout the course of the project. This is another reason that using a builder that our architect is familiar with is essential. She knows from experience who typically comes close to their number and who doesn't.

All in all, we are really looking forward to meeting them and hearing about their vision for the project. I, personally, am most anxious to know WHEN, WHEN, WHEN we can get things underway. Who knows? They could say we have to wait until the summer? But, we are excited to be at this step and finally be starting to talk about dates. We'll be back soon with feedback on the contractors and ultimately who we decide to work with!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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