A big saltwater pool with a diving board; a custom-made play set for your kids; a multi-tiered outdoor kitchen complete with a patio dining table, an outdoor pizza oven, and plenty of outdoor sofas. When it comes to backyard renovation projects, the sky is quite literally the limit. There are so many fun and fabulous ways to make your yard an extension of your home, and planning the new additions is exciting. Undertaking a new building project is a big deal, though. It produces a lot of pollution and waste, requires one (or more) permits and usually involves the helping hands of a half a dozen people. Luckily, there's someone who can help with organize the messy logistics of a major home renovation: a contractor. Before you break ground on a new project, here are a few questions you should whip out in the preliminary discussion:
How long will this take?
Some backyard remodels, like installing an above-ground wooden porch, won't take too long, but some, such as building a brand-new in-ground pool, complete with a hot tub and water slide, can take months. Before you get started on a new project, it's a good idea to understand what the schedule is going to look like. After all, a full construction crew toiling away in your yard can be tiring for everyone involved.
Who would my main contact be?
A major home renovation project will usually involve more than one person, so it's a good idea to know who you should direct all your questions and concerns toward as the building commences.
Are you a member of a professional organization?
Belonging to a professional organization is impressive on the part of the contractor, but it also signifies that he or she has the proper professional licensing and is participating in some kind of continuing education program. It's not a bad idea to find a professional organization like this first and then find a builder who's a member – it eliminates the need to ask this question entirely.
Who will be here?
When you have a larger crew working in your backyard, it's a good idea to know how many people you can expect day-to-day and become familiar with those faces. Ask whoever is in charge to let you know when someone new will be joining in, and if something looks suspicious, don't be afraid to call your contact to verify they're working on the project.
Do you provide guarantees?
It's always good to know that the project is going to hold up the way it should and that if it doesn't, the contractor will fix the problem. The last thing you want is to build a brand-new kitchen only to find the outdoor oven doesn't work and the contractor isn't going to fix it.
Will you take care of the permits?
Almost any backyard renovation you start will need some kind of building permit, and your contractor will usually take care of securing it. It always pays to be sure, however. If you need to take care of the permits, you need to know.
Does this project seem realistic?
When you're working with an experienced contractor, remember one thing: They know best. Some of your initial plans or sketches for the renovation might not be feasible, and that's OK; by collaborating with the contractor, you should be able to come up with a plan that's both functional and fun.
Picking the right contractor often means the difference between a nightmare and a dream come true when it comes to home renovations. Selecting the perfect one might seem tricky, but it certainly doesn't have to be.