Photo by Olgar Fallas

Update: The simple answer to this question is: as soon as possible. When you begin the process of looking for a contractor, there are a lot of places to look: your neighbors and friends will have recommendations that are worth following up on, your town may have a local website where different contractors are rated by previous customers, and it’s always a good idea to check listings websites such as craigslist. Once you’ve made a shortlist of potential contractors, you need them to look at your home and assess the amount of work that needs to be done and give you a quote. This process can take quite some time, so it’s best to get the ball rolling right away.

A general contractor can help you to convert your remodeling dreams into reality. The best time to hire a general contractor is well before the remodeling is to be done. The normal procedure with respect to contractors is to contact as many of them as possible in the earlier stages when you are creating your plans for your remodel project. The objective of this is to assess the contractor on two fronts — work competence and cost.

Both of the above mentioned factors are critical to the success of a remodel. The expertise of contractors can be assessed by interacting with them and understanding their perspective on the remodeling to be done. Information obtained from contractors is invaluable as it should help you mold your own ideas with respect to the remodel. The more you interact with contractors the more you can learn to help you with future discussions with other contractors. Another reason for getting in touch early with contractors is to get an idea of the costs involved. An early cost estimating tool is available at which is a great place to prepare yourself for finding the best contractor.

It is not unusual to encounter dramatic price variations in the bids you will receive. The major cost components are materials and labor. By getting several quotes from different contractors you can get an idea of costs that they may incur with the materials that they may have in mind. This is an opportunity to obtain quotes that include different types of materials for comparison and then selecting materials that best fit in your budget. It is also important to know that the labor costs vary with the materials as some materials require extra time or special skills to work with.

Early interaction with contractors enables you to get a clear idea of the cost and time involved in the remodeling process. Having an idea of the future value of the remodeled home can help homeowners get a loan from mortgage companies based on the future value. By contacting contractors well before the actual remodel starts, it is possible that you may find a reliable “design and build” contractor with the necessary knowledge and skills to design, draft, and construct the entire project. This is an ideal situation for small remodels that do not necessarily require inputs from architects.

Other Articles you might find helpful:

Are You Spending Too Much on Your Remodel?

What to Ask in a Contractor Interview

When Do You Call in an Architect?