What to Expect During an Initial Contractor Consultation

Requesting an initial consultation with a contractor is a big step toward starting your remodeling project. The consultation is a chance for you to clarify your vision of the project, get answers to your questions, and receive initial feedback on the viability of your ideas. Depending on how far along you are in the planning process, the contractor may also be able to provide you with an approximate forecast or price range  for your project and a possible timeline for what you want done.

Many people, especially those who are considering their first remodel, don’t know what to expect from the initial consultation. Below, I walk you through the process and provide tips on how to get the most out of your consultation. Please be aware that this information is based on how we at K B Design and Remodeling perform our consultations. Other firms may operate in a different manner, though most of the fundamentals should be the same.

Firstly, the initial consultation should take place at your home so that the contractor can have direct access to the potential remodel area.

Secondly, the first part of the consultation should include a lot of listening on the part of the contractor. This is your project, and the contractor needs to know your story and your ideas before offering any suggestions.

Once you have described your vision, the contractor will use their experience and expertise to provide potential remodeling solutions, which may include design suggestions, cost saving tips, and remodeling strategies.  Ask lots of questions, especially if you don’t understand something the contractor is saying.

A contractor will also tell you about their company and past projects. They may share a portfolio of pictures of other projects that were similar to yours. They should also provide an explanation of how their team works on a project and what you, the client, can expect during the actual remodel.

Always ask lots of questions during the initial consultation! Many folks are just curious with what is possible and what certain ideas would cost. In some cases, the contractor can forecast a potential cost range for your project for preliminary planning purposes. Just be aware that until the exact specifications are confirmed, no contractor can accurately provide a final project cost sufficient for honest evaluation for comparison bidding purposes.

Cost estimates may vary widely between contractors and may not be the best way to choose a contractor. That’s why another important function of the initial consultation is for the client and contractor to get to know each other. Determine if the contractor was knowledgeable, if you connected with one another, if the contractor seemed to understand your vision and if you liked their suggestions. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time with your contractor throughout the remodel process, so it really helps to go with someone you respect.

After the initial consultation, take some time to digest the information you learned. If you are serious about your project, it is probably in your best interest to bring in several contractors to bid on the project (learn about our contractor proposal review guarantee).

It is also a good idea to bring back your top contracting choices for a second meeting, especially if some time has lapsed since the initial consultation. The second meeting is usually more thorough, and provides you and the contractor an opportunity to fine-tune your vision. On the second meeting, K B Design and Remodeling will often use a category cost worksheet to develop a more accurate forecast of a project’s realistic price range.

That basically summarizes the purpose of an initial consultation. Read the tips below to get the most out of your meeting.

Maximize Your Initial Consultation:

  • Free up at least two hours of time for the meeting and try to limit any possible distractions.
  • Make sure all the major decision makers are present at the meeting.
  • Provide the contractor with as much detail as possible for what you envision for the project. You don’t need to have every last faucet figured out. The contractor can help you fill in the blanks
  • Come to the meeting with an open mind. The contractor may offer advice or alternative solutions based on their extensive experience in the remodeling industry.
  • Come to the meeting with a general budget in mind. This will help the contractor suggest solutions within your price range.
  • Ask lots of questions. This is your house and your money on the line. Make sure you are completely comfortable with the entire process before moving forward.
  • Assess the contractor. The initial consultation isn’t just about getting details and suggestions for your project. It’s also an opportunity to test out the personality and working style of the contractor. Make sure to look carefully at their portfolio to determine if their style and results are what you want for your home.
  • Make certain that you contact two or three of the references that a contractor offers you. This will often give you more confidence in your choice.

If you think that you are ready for an initial design consultation for your remodeling project, we would be happy to listen to your goals and provide you with our knowledge and recommendations. Call (619) 448-2927 or E-mail us at Frank@KBDR.net

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