You’ve done your research, you’ve binged Holmes on Homes, you’ve even gotten a few bids. But you’re not absolutely sure you’re ready to sign with a contractor. If you’re still concerned, don’t worry, your head’s in the right place. But how do you keep that concern from stopping you altogether?
If you doubt whether you’re ready to sign with a contractor, we’ve got four questions you can ask yourself to make sure. If your answer’s a “hard yes” on the questions below, you’re most likely ready to sign. What constitutes a “hard yes?” Approach the questions below on a scale of one to five. If you can answer “yes” at five, you’re ready to sign.
At KP Contracting, we love helping people transform their outdoor spaces. But? We realize we aren’t the right choice for everyone, no matter your speed. In this post, we’ll cover how to prepare for a successful outdoor living project, no matter which contractor you pick.
How well do I know the materials?
What a 1 looks like: you know you want a patio.
What a 5 looks like: you know what kind of materials the patio will be made of, and why.
If you know you want a paver patio, what sort of pavers do you want? There’s a wide range, from porcelain to bluestone to slate to concrete to brick. To slow it down further, ask yourself: what material looks good with your house? What material is strong enough to last? What’s your purpose behind wanting a paver patio in the first place?
If you’ve got a small backyard space, but want to make it look bigger, the type of paver, and even the color, can make a big difference. Larger paver stones make an area appear bigger than it is. Similarly, lighter colors create the impression of more space. With that in mind, a customer who wants to make a big visual impression with a small backyard might go for a bigger paver stone (18 x 18) in a lighter color (like sandstone).
Asking specific questions about the types of pavers enhances the relationship between you and your contractor. The more questions you answer (and ask), the more your contractor will be reminded of other projects, materials and approaches.
How well do I know the design?
What a 1 looks like: having a basic idea of the design.
What a 5 looks like: Asking yourself what the design’s purpose is, and what choices best accomplish that purpose.
For instance, you may be interested in a plunge pool. If you want to make sure a plunge pool’s a good investment, ask yourself why you’re interested in it. Do you want a plunge pool because you’re looking for a small space to cool off in the humid summer months? Or are you looking for a pool for your young children? If you want the latter, the plunge pool’s small size might not be the best fit for rambunctious little ones who want to practice their cannonballs.
As you build, your priorities may change. Understanding the purpose behind the design you’ve chosen will ensure success. Understanding why you want the design you do, will also help you find the best contractor for the job. For instance, if you know you want a plunge pool as one part of a broader backyard design scheme, for the purposes of relaxation and occasional water aerobics, you may realize that a contractor who specializes in full-size pools isn’t the best fit.
How well do I know my contractor?
What a 1 looks like: getting at least three bids.
What a 5 looks like: Asking yourself whether you’ve found a relationship where you collaborate with your contractor.
What does a good relationship with your contractor look like? If you can ask them questions, and they can ask you questions in response, that’s a good foundation. A contractor should be able to say, “here are the questions you need to answer before the project gets started.” They should be as much a sounding board as a service provider. If a contractor gives you homework to do– say, reading over a catalog and seeing which decking materials appeal to you–that’s a good sign.
People who’ve done major home improvement projects are often surprised by how many questions contractors ask them (wooden deck or composite? Trex or Fiberon? Promenade or Concordia?). Contractors ask a lot of questions because there are so many directions a project can take. Answering those questions gets you closer to a project that will still make you happy ten years from now. Asking and answering questions also has the function of tandem brainstorming. Be cautious with a contractor who does not ask a lot of questions!
How well do I know my finances?
What a 1 looks like: You’ve got a ballpark of what you’re willing to pay for your project.
What a 5 looks like: You know what sort of financing is best suited to your project’s purpose.
How are you going to pay for the project? Not having the cash out-of-pocket doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. There are multiple financing options for home improvement projects, from personal loans to home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).
When you have an idea of how you’re going to pay for a project, more possibilities open up. For instance, a HELOC acts as an effective credit card for your home improvement project while personal loans are normally fast and easily obtained with one of your contractor’s financing partners.
Ask yourself how to take the next step
What’s another good way to search, besides these questions? Easy: read like the wolf eats. The more you research up front, the easier the transition will be from planning to doing. For instance, the old “get three bids” rule isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. On that note, you should be less interested in finding the right contractor, than in finding the right contractor for you.
If you’ve looked at us and think we’d be a good match, we’d love to hear from you. You can connect with us here, or give us a call at 240-266-5900.
Phil Parsons is an owner at KP Contracting with 20-years’ experience in custom remodeling and the development of outdoor living spaces that bring friends and family together. He is a degreed engineer, and his work has been featured on HGTV.