Should I Contact A Contractor Early in the Process?
The simple answer is, yes! But why?
One of the best reasons is they know what’s necessary to get a project started and they can help guide you through the process from start to finish, saving time and money.
A homeowner’s typical first call to the contractor often sounds like this. “I’m thinking of renovating or adding (Insert your wish list here)” ….:and, “I’d like to start soon.” Soon may be months away and here’s why.
Knowing the approximate cost of your project before deciding to move forward in the process is usually a good reason to call the contractor early. Meeting with the contractor to discuss why you want to do the project will provide valuable information for the contractor to give you a more accurate cost range and often critical in helping you make an informed decision to move forward or not.
If the cost range sounds good to you and you’ve decided to move forward in the process, the next step may be to find an architect/designer. For most small projects, such as re-doing a bathroom, or removing a non-bearing wall, you and the contractor can usually handle both the design and construction end. For new homes, large additions, whole-house renovations, and even a new kitchen, plans will be needed. The contractor may be able to suggest some architects/designers that they and previous homeowners like.
If you’re a homeowner that started with plans and then contacted the contractor, you may be in for some “sticker shock” once you hear how much this project will cost. Be open about your budget from the beginning. It’s not unusual for the first set of plans to be out of your budget range. Especially if you’ve given the architect/designer your wish list! Your contractor can help find cost savings, but keep in mind, this process may take several months, or longer, as you go back and forth with the architect/designer, and then to the contractor, for cost revisions.
You’re moving along. The next step in the process is to obtain proper permits from your village or town. The contractor, or architect, if you worked with one, can guide you through the steps. Because requirements vary from village to village, town to town, the best thing to do is check with yours early on! The permit process can take several months.
For some projects, a request to do something outside of current zoning requirements, or a variance, may be needed even before plans can be submitted for permits. Maybe what you want to build is too close to the property line. This step can add months to the timeline as you gather all the necessary paperwork and wait for meeting dates at the village/town. Some meet just once or twice a month!
After the plans are submitted for approval, typically the village/town engineers must then approve them. A slight revision may be made to the plans. There may be an additional cost to you because of the change. The contractor will revise the specifications and you will have to approve the cost. That added a couple of weeks.
In tandem, homeowners will also need to be working with their contractor/design team to be sure all needed selections are made (plumbing fixtures for bathrooms, cabinets and appliances for kitchens, tile, accessories, etc.) and will be ready for delivery when the project is due to start. Depending on choices, this process can take many months. If items are not received on time, work stops, adding unnecessary time to the project.
Depending on the scope of work, this process may have taken you several months, sometimes over a year, but you contacted the contractor early and they’ve been with you every step of the way, paving the way for you to now have all the plans, approvals, permits and selections you need to build your forever home!