How to Hire the Right Contractor and Keep to Your Budget


While do-it-yourself remodels are all the rage these days, there are some projects that will inevitably be outside your realm of expertise. When these larger-scale projects come around, it might be best to hire a contractor to organize and execute your plan. Structural changes and major additions will likely result in hiring outside work, and it is important to know what you need before you begin construction. While your contractor should be well-versed in local building codes, trade expertise and organization, it is your responsibility to bring as much to the project as you are able. Knowledge, planning and solid records are three solid ways to minimize the cost of your remodel:

Know Exactly What you Want

Write down every detail of your remodeling plan, from the massive wall knock-downs down to knobs and faucets. This is important when writing a contract with your contractor; the more detailed the plan, the closer you will stay to your proposed budget when construction begins. Also, the more information you include, the less likely your contractor will make a costly error due to miscommunication. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry advises customers to “include all your product selections in the contract to avoid confusion…Include the model, size, color, and…save 10-20 percent of your budget to allow for items added to the scope of work.” Keep in mind that some projects are more labor-intensive than others, and can affect the total of your proposed budget.

Know how to Add Space

There are two ways to add space to your home: you can either add square footage beyond the original structure, you can use space from one room to make another space bigger. This is called space reconfiguration, and can save a lot of money if you aren’t remodeling for the sole purpose of adding square footage. The NARI suggests “stealing” space from linen or pantry closets, finding spaces in between wall studs to build sleek storage niches or using hallway space.

Minimize Labor Costs

When installing minor accessories such as crown molding, chair-rail molding, trim, casings or siding, you can order them pre-finished to avoid extra on-site labor. The NARI also suggests ordering finger-jointed trim instead of clear, vertical grain to save money and make installation easier. If you are remodeling a bathroom, consider installing a shower/tub combination or a pedestal sink instead of a full vanity. These additions can make installation much easier and less costly; some pedestal sinks can be pricey, but the upside is that they also save space.