SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

by Devan Miller

You are starting to think about a remodel. Maybe you need more space and want to add to your home. Maybe it is your kitchen that needs an upgrade. Maybe it is your bathroom that could use a new layout. No matter how big or small the project is, there are things that you should start brainstorming around before reaching out to a contractor for bids. 

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

One | What are Your Goals

What is the goal that you want to accomplish? How is the space working against you, and what needs to change? How do you feel in your current space, and how do you want to feel after we have worked our magic? The answer to this might be a physical or structural issue, or it could be that you get a contradictory emotion than the one you desire when you’re in the space. If you feel frustrated with your kitchen layout, it would be difficult to love to cook. Our goal in your remodel is to make you feel how you want to feel in your home and accomplish your goals for that space.

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

Two | The Dreaded Budget Question

The dreaded question is, what is your budget? The question has a negative connotation to it, but it is a question that provides you with the best experience from the get-go. It might be a good idea to change your mindset around this question. We ask the question not so that we can overcharge you or disqualify you but rather so that we can know what to suggest. We don’t want to undersell and underwhelm you if you have x amount allocated for this project. On the flip side, we don’t want to oversell and promise that we can incorporate design elements that aren’t going to fall within a budget that you feel comfortable in. If you have no idea what things cost, we are more than happy to help determine that with you, but keep in mind that there is likely a number that you would like to stay around or below, and that is the golden number that we are looking for. We want to respect that number. 

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

Three | Desired Timeframe

What is your desired timeframe? This is a two-part question, and make sure you consider both parts! Part one, when are you hoping to START the project? Keep in mind that contractors typically schedule out at least a couple of months in advance. And although we all love the answer “ASAP” to this question, it is unrealistic in our world. When you decide it is time for a remodel, reach out while anticipating your project won’t start immediately. Part two, when are you hoping to COMPLETE the project? Do you have a graduation party coming up? Do you host family and friends for the holidays? Do you have a baby due? These are all-time hurdles that we have had to stride over in the past that are good to know upfront. Knowing the answer to these two timeframe questions makes us more likely to set realistic expectations from the start.

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

Four | What are You Thinking about in Terms of Design

Start to consider what materials and finishes you envision in your space. If you are remodeling an area with a countertop, are you wanting a hard surface such as quartz, granite, quartzite, marble, etc? Or do you want a different surface, like laminate or wood? For flooring, do you want hardwood, LVP/LVT (Luxury Vinyl Plank or Luxury Vinyl Tile), tile, carpet, and so on? Are you leaning toward brushed nickel or a living brass finish for fixture finishes? As small and minute as these details may seem when you are just starting to think about a remodel, knowing the vision behind these elements will help your contractor provide an accurate bid. Keep in mind that if this overwhelms you or you have no idea, we are here to help you! 

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

Five | What are Your Non-Negotiables

What are your non-negotiables? Everyone has their preferences, and we understand that. Do you value cabinet storage over countertop space? Great, let’s add in some pantry storage. Do you want two dishwashers (and do you have the space for them)? Sure, we can do that. Is grout the bane of your existence, and do you want minimal grout lines? Let’s find a great large format tile option to accomplish that. Make sure you know your must-haves so we can include them in the design and/or scope of work. 

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

Six | What is Your Priority with Selecting a Contractor

What is your priority with selecting a contractor? When meeting with clients, we often hear that there are three areas people value at different levels. Those areas are;

  • Cost
  • Timeline
  • Craftsmanship

 Your lowest bid will rarely be from the same contractor offering custom craftsmanship details. Is it imperative that the project is completed by a certain time? The timeline may be your priority. Whatever your priority may be, share that with the contractor. The more you share, the better your contractor will understand you and your goals. 

The more clear you are on these items upfront, the more clear a picture you can paint for your contractor. Keep in mind, when gathering bids from a couple of different contractors, each contractor will likely interpret your vision differently, resulting in bids with differing line items. A clear answer to these six points will help ensure that bids are as “apples-to-apples” as possible.
Take some time, brainstorm these areas, and help us help you. Together, we can change the way you live. 

Feel free to PIN this image to help you along your remodeling journey!

SIX AREAS TO BRAINSTORM BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING with a general contractor | Carlson Projects

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