Ripe Market for NYC Apartment Remodeling
Whether you are a longstanding NYC apartment owner, first-time buyer, or in the market for a flipping property, New York City has a lot of housing stock that can benefit from apartment remodeling. From simple paint jobs to bathroom remodel to a full apartment renovation, there are numerous remodeling contractors only blocks away that can provide you the home renovation services needed to vastly improve your property value.
With a large volume of remodeling contractors to choose from, the two main concerns are price and quality. First, can I hire somebody that I can afford, and second will they do a good job? Unfortunately, in a market as big as New York City, the answer a lot of times tends to be one or the other, not so often both. The short answer to how to find a contractor that can check both boxes is to do your research and ask many questions, but data may sometimes be limited, and the answers may not always be clear. So, if you are in the market for an apartment renovation or apartment remodel, please consider the following:
Always Seek Out a Referral First
The easiest step is to ask people closest in your friends and family circle that live in NYC and ask them who they recommend. Usually, it is either a close friend or they themselves have been a customer. Simply put if they had a great experience and felt the contractor had a great price, odds are that the contractor will deliver the same results to you. If the contractor did not deliver a good product or ripped your friend/family member off, they may tell you to steer clear. If a family/friend had a good experience, ask them to see the work performed such as a kitchen remodel. The easiest way to tell you found who you want to renovate your apartment is to see the work they have done and got assurance it was a respectable and affordable experience for that person in your network.
Remodeling Contractor vs. Full-Service Design-Build Firm
If it turns out you do not have much to go on with family/friends’ connections, you will have to start research on square one. There are mainly two types of industry contractors you could hire to perform your apartment renovation project.
The first is what is referred to as a general contractor. Not to be mistaken for a handyman, a general contractor is someone who either coordinates major projects with specialists or has the ability depending on the job to do the work himself. A general contractor will tend to steer away from electrical, HVAC, or plumbing jobs, but will usually not be afraid to tackle any kind of carpentry or interior renovation. If you are in the market for a full-service apartment renovation, it may sometimes be beneficial to hire a general contractor to consult out to specialists. Usually, by doing this the general contractor can properly manage the project while hiring the specialists he has trusted in the past for jobs he has done. If you found a good general contractor, odds are he will hire the right specialists to get your job done for you.
If your job is room specific or project-specific, if you feel the project needs design input and is large in scale, a full-service design-build firm is always the better way to go. Design-build firms come in and handle oversight of the entire project. A lot of firms tend to specialize in specific rooms such as a kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel. They also can assist with a lot of the challenging components of a remodel such as permit expediting and building board approval.
Get Multiple Quotes
The biggest mistake customers tend to do is take either the first best offer or the first contractor that assures them they can do the job. But whatever you think is good, you may have missed out on a better offer. Always sit down with at least three contractors, thoroughly explain the project you wish to accomplish, and give them a budget you feel is reasonable. If contractors feel your budget is reasonable, they will generally try to work within your range. If not, a good one will explain why the budget should be higher and will work with you to agree to a higher price or a reduced project. Be wary of contractors who are pushy and try to get you to agree to a project on the first day.
Always get a written quote and take notes on their perceived project timeline and methods. A contractor who can knock a project out in one day may not always be the best one to choose from. Speak to 2 to 3 past clients, and visit 1 in the process job site to see the organization of the place, and one completed project to check the quality. Talk to one other person in the company, the project manager, or the designer.
Get a Written Contract with a Breakdown of Costs
The handshake deal or verbal agreement is a death wish for anyone who works with a contractor. Anytime you hire a contractor for work, make sure you sit down and write out a contract that explains explicitly what work will be done, and a breakdown of what costs will include. A lot of times contractors will quote a flat rate but can easily exceed it when the cost or quantity of materials goes up. Make sure both you and the contractor are on the same terms regarding cost overruns. If the contract states a lump sum, then the contractor must absorb any additional unforeseen costs. Otherwise, he must state on the contract that the agreed rate is labor plus cost of materials. If you are considering a full-service apartment renovation, it may be a good idea to bring in legal professionals to make sure you may not be on the wrong end of huge liability.
It may go without saying, as most contractors usually carry their liability insurance, but there are many NYC contractors around who for whatever reason may negligently be operating a business without it. Without liability insurance, a contractor could hold you liable for any incidents or injuries that occur on your property.
Take the Dive but be Cautious!
While there is a lot of shady business practice that goes on in general with NYC contractors, do not let this deter you for making the plunge into an interior renovation of your property. While making a big capital investment can get frightened by uncertainty, odds are whatever contractor you choose should deliver on your requests. The bottom line is that if they have a word of mouth positive reputation, or a portfolio to review, it is more likely than not they can execute your project to completion. Bottom line is to be clear in what you want, make sure the contractor is capable from your perspective in performing the project, and have a good idea of what it should cost through general research. Owning real estate in NYC is a great investment, make the dive, and begin the journey of improving your asset.