PERRY HIIMAN | INTRODUCTION:
Having your space remodeled is exciting. The thought of brand new floors, modern appliances, and trendy interiors can capture the imagination of any homeowner. That’s probably why the first question I hear from clients are usually related to flooring, countertops, and other design decisions. But as the general manager of NYKB Kitchen & Bath, and someone who’s managed over 1,000 renovation projects in Manhattan alone, I will tell you that these are not the first questions you should be asking. Yes, they are the fun ones. But if you don’t select the right contractor for the job, none of these choices even matter. That’s why you should always start out by asking these 5 extremely important questions:
Are you fully licensed (HIL and DOB license) and insured? I’d actually suggest asking this question over the phone before you even have a contractor come to your home. If the answer is anything but a resounding “yes,” just save your time and move on to someone else. You should also ask for proof, which is easy to provide. I know that at NYKB, we are more than happy to fax or email you copies if you’d like to see them. As a follow up, you should also make sure that any subcontractor who will be setting foot on your property is insured. If they are not, you could be liable if they get hurt.
How long have you done renovations in my city? I don’t want to blatantly state that contractors who have not been in the business a long time will do a bad job. Everyone has to start out somewhere. But as someone who has spent over 20 years in the contracting business, I can tell you that I know a lot more now than I did when I was first starting out. That allows me to bring many advantages to NYKB’s clients. In addition, specific experience in the city where you live may be a big factor, especially in a place like New York that presents some unique challenges that I’ve written about previously.
Have you done any jobs that were similar to mine? Even though many people think of home remodeling as a singular skill, your contractor actually has to have the expertise to manage workers with many different specialties. Because of this, you really need to make sure you are hiring a company who has experience successfully completing your specific job. You may even want to ask for pictures of old projects that are similar to yours so you can see what to expect.
Do you have references I can contact? People are very busy nowadays. When you ask a perspective contractor for references, he might just tell you that his past clients simply do not have time to talk to you. But I’ve always made sure to approach every job with the knowledge that a person’s home is a very intimate and personal part of their life. I’ve taught my team at NYKB Kitchen & Bath to treat every client’s home like they would treat their own. Because of that philosophy, my clients are always happy to take that time out of their day to help. Any contractor you hire should be able to tell you the same.
What happens if we need to make a change to the contract? In the construction industry, change orders are a regular occurrence. They can be necessary for many reasons, from a homeowner changing their mind, to a contractor opening up a wall and finding an electrical issue that was impossible to see beforehand. Something that is specific to New York, is that your building management might request updates after the completion of the demolition process. This can be anything from removing lead pipes, to adding new valves. While NYKB cannot be sure of what your building will request until we have opened up the walls, we do provide a list of items, along with pricing for some of the most common requests made by building management. Often, these things require a change to the contract. But every contractor deals with this differently. This is something you should really know and have down on paper before you sign any contract.
PERRY HIIMAN | CONCLUSION:
At the end of the day, renovations are fun and exciting. I want you to continue to enjoy the process as it will bring about many positive changes to your lifestyle. I also want you to be prepared so you know how to handle certain situations that may arise. As you prepare for your upcoming renovation, remember to ask your contractor the following questions stated above. Do a little research and check in with valid review sites such as Yelp and Google. Also remember that not all sites are reputable sources, you want to make sure that these reviews are followed up by true facts and real customers. In the event that you need additional assistance or resources, my team at NYKB Kitchen & Bath would be happy to answer these questions for you. Just give us a call at (212) 242-3500, or visit our website.
As always, please feel free to share this information with family and friends, the more information they have, the easier it will be for them to have a successful renovation.