What are some key considerations before I start getting bids from contractors for a remodeling project?

There are many issues that need to be researched before beginning a construction project. The following are just a few of the issues to consider.

Scope of Work

You should first define your project. A project description is the scope of work to be performed. The scope of work should identify specifically the work tasks within the project, including material specifications. Detailed, comprehensive descriptions should be provided for the quality, brands, models, and colors of project materials as well as code requirements for materials such as lumber and electrical components.

The scope of your project may be the most important consideration. Without this clear definition of the expected work, detailed for materials, tasks, and timeline, any contractor you interview can’t be sure what the job will entail and therefore may choose not to bid on your project.

Scope of work is important for comparison purposes of bids or estimates from different contractors. More detail rather than less detail will be to your benefit to ensure the work performed is the work you wanted done.

Starting and Estimated Completion Dates
In addition to a firm beginning date and expected completion date, consideration should be given to inserting a timeline that lists critical milestones. Depending upon the complexity of the project, the locale, and materials availability, consideration should also be given to extension of critical dates if warranted by specified conditions.

Cost and Payment Schedule
In general there are two types of cost and payment arrangements. A bid is considered a fixed-price agreement whereby the contractor bids for the job and completes the job for the quoted amount. An estimate is a cost-plus arrangement whereby the contractor calculates the final bill from  time and materials associated with project plus his overhead and profit.

The price and payment schedule should indicate how much you must pay at the start of and at specified intervals during the project and at completion including any deposits due at signing..

You may want a requirement that the costs for the job components are not to exceed a specified amount and that any cost overruns are the responsibility of the contractor.

Change Orders
Be aware of the contractor’s policy for change orders. A change order is a written agreement to alter work described in the original scope of work, whether it is an addition, deleted, substitution, or modification. If a deviation is needed from the agreed upon scope of work, you will need to discuss options with your contractor, and jointly agree in writing to the change order.

Unforeseeable Conditions or Problems
You may want to consider requiring a contingency for handling unexpected or unforeseeable problems that might arise during the course of project construction. The contingency should specify in detail what will be done in event of such problems, including selection and approval of substitute or equal materials and negotiation and adjustment of project costs.

Dispute Resolution
You should have a good understanding of how the contractor will handle problems, such as mediation and/or arbitration.

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