Defining a scope of work
In a renovation project, defining your needs starts with distinguishing between your 'must do' list and your 'wish' list.
Depending on the condition of the property, the list of 'must dos' (what is necessary to bring the house up to code) may include items such as roofing, plumbing, electrical, heat & air, foundation, energy efficiency, health & safety etc.
Developing your 'wish' list (items that will enhance your enjoyment of the house) may be more complicated.
Think about your goals. Do you want more space? An updated bath or kitchen? New floors? Or even a reconfigured floor plan?
Ultimately, your budget will determine how many of the 'wishes' are possible after the 'must dos' are satisfied.
The more you know about the property you are renovating - the better.
It's recommended that you have a Licensed Home Inspector, HUD consultant, licensed Home Improvement, Commercial or General Contractor inspect your property.
Depending on the condition and location of the property, you might need separate inspections for items such as structural, termites, sewer line, mold, energy efficiency rating etc.
Contact several licensed home contractors to inspect your property and provide their scope of work. (More on these topics below.) Be sure to request a bid that includes both a fully itemized cost breakout and the total cost of the project.
Contractors do not usually charge to make a bid.
It will assist the contractor(s) to quote accurately if you specify your choice of materials and fixtures, such as floor coverings, kitchen cabinets, counter tops, light fixtures, appliances, bathroom fixtures, windows and doors and trim. The cost of these items will be included in the contractor's quote, or the contractor might include a cost allowance for these items.
It always helps to compare prices and scope of work, so we recommend you interview as many contractors as possible.
Selecting a contractor
You will select the contractor(s) for your project, but finding a professional contractor doesn't have to be a difficult task.
Follow these guidelines to make the selection process easier and be better prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs:
Employ a contractor with an established business in your area
Request and check references from past customers in your community
Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to be sure the contractor meets all requirements
Check with the government Consumer Affairs Office and the Better Business Bureau to ensure that there are no adverse records on file for the contractor.
Ask to see a copy of the contractor's insurance certification(s). Most states require a contractor to carry general liability and worker's compensation insurance.
If you solicit bids from several contractors (recommended), be sure they are bidding on the same scope of work and materials of your choice, or that the allowances for materials are priced realistically.
Beware of any bid that comes in much lower than the others.