Before You Remodel

Remodel Right – Your Home Deserves It!

Plan ahead.  Proper planning can help keep your home remodel project on schedule and you on budget.  Remember the big picture- Long-term maintenance, energy-loss, and repair expenses can add up quickly, so make sure you include them in your home renovations costs when comparing price, and make sure your remodeler is only using the highest of quality construction products. Hire a professional remodeler- Certifications and memberships in local & national trade organizations show that a remodeler invests in continuing education and positive customer references. Most important, select a remodeler you trust and are comfortable communicating with. Visit a job site- The best remodelers maintain clean\organized work sites and welcome your visit. Be a good boss-Be honest and up front with your desires and expectations. A good home remodeling company goal is to design and produce a product that goes beyond the client’s expectations. They can only accomplish this with your input. We have developed some home remodeling tips to help guide you in your decision making process. We hope you get to experience a remodeling project the way it should be done, The Cleary Company way.

– George  Cleary, CR, Owner






Consider the question: Should I Remodel My Home?

  1. Would you like to remodel your home?
  2. Has it been more than 5 years since you moved into your home?
  3. Has your lifestyle changed in any way?
  4. Have you added any children or other relatives (i.e. parents) to your home?
  5. Have any children moved out of the house?
  6. Do you have a special place in the home for you to do the things you like to do?
  7. Do you have a comfortable place to exercise?
  8. Would you like to have a guest room, home office, study, studio, library, home theater, media room or another room you don’t already have?
  9. Would you enjoy your home more if it had a different configuration of its space?
  10. Does the exterior of you home appeal to you?
  11. Is there anything you would like to do in your home that you can’t do now?
  12. Could your home be more conducive to having friends and family visit?
  13. Are the outdoor spaces adequate and/or enjoyable?
  14. Would you like to have a more modern and conveniently planned kitchen?
  15. Could your bathrooms or powder room use a facelift?
  16. Could you use better or more storage space?
  17. Could your unfinished basement be converted into more useable living space you could enjoy?
  18. Does your home need cosmetic or structural repair?
  19. Is your home as energy efficient as you would like it to be?
  20. Are your windows and exterior door efficient?
  21. Are there things about the way your home is designed that will cause you to have to move out of it before you will want to?
  22. If you had to sell your home today, would it compare favorably to other homes on the market?
  23. Do you like your neighborhood but not your house?

The more “Yes” answers you have, the more you will benefit from remodeling your home.

The Importance of Selecting the Right Remodeler

  • Not all remodelers are alike.  Some are highly qualified professionals, some are not.  Some are specialists and some are generalists.
  • Carefully selecting a remodeler now can save you time, money, and trouble. Asking the right questions now can prevent unpleasant surprises in the future.
  • Your remodeler will be in your home every workday from early morning until the late afternoon for an extended length of time. It is important that you trust and feel comfortable with them.
  • You will probably want a design/build remodeler that can reflect your sense of style.
  • Remodeling your home is an investment. You want to make sure it is done right. Selecting the right remodeler is your most important decision.

Things for You to Consider

  • What type of work will you want done? (Addition? Kitchen? Bath? Home theater? Multi-room project? Whole house renovation?)
  • Are you looking for more space, or something distinctive and/or especially functional?
  • Do you want a separate architect and builder, or do you want the ease and safety of the design/build approach where the remodeler provides both the architectural design and construction?
  • How much do you want to invest in your home?
  • Do you want to be able to live in your home during construction or not?
  • How long will you live in your home and enjoy the project? Or is the project to improve your home’s resale value?
  • Do you need to have the work done by a particular time, or can you be flexible?

Define What’s Important to You

  • Determine what you need from your project, what you want to have but isn’t essential, and what would be nice but you could live without if it exceeds your budget.
  • How important is quality versus price versus value to you?
  • What level of involvement do you want in a project? Some remodelers want you highly involved and some barely involved except to approve designs.
  • Make sure you know what’s expected of you.

Finding a Remodeler

  • Ask friends, neighbors, and business associates for the names of remodelers they would recommend, and why.
  • Contact trade associations for names of reputable and quality-oriented remodelers in the area that might do the kind of work you are looking for. Some trade associations to choose from are:
  • Look for jobsite signs in and around your neighborhood.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau. They will let you know of any serious complaints against a company.  www.centralohio.bbb.org
  • Check with your local building department- Upper Arlington 614-583-5078 Worthington 614-854-7172 Columbus 614-645-6090 Dublin 614-410-4608

Visit the Remodeler’s Website and Facebook page

  • No Website?  What does that tell you about how they view your needs and run their business?
  • Get a feel for what type of company they are and if they are the type of company you want to trust in your home.
  • Does the overall site reflect a sense of design, quality, and commitment to client service and satisfaction?
  • Look through the photo gallery and see if their work reflects a diversity of styles. Are they capable of adapting their work to meet their clients’ preferences?
  • Do they clearly state the services they offer, warranty information, licensing, and insurance? Do they mention their qualifications, years in business, membership in trade organizations, or certifications?
  • Is there anything they offer that is different from or better/worse than other remodelers?

The Initial Phone Call

  • Call the companies that you feel are the best match.
  • Let them know what sort of project you are thinking about and your budget range.
  • If someone must call you back, do they return your call promptly?
  • Are they approachable?

Meeting with a Remodeler

  • Ask questions at the meeting.  Decide beforehand what you want to ask.
  • When remodelers visit your home, do they arrive on time? Do they have a neat and professional appearance?  Did you feel good about them?
  • Pay attention to the remodeler’s communication style. Do they listen well? Do they ask good questions about the project?  Or do they mostly want to talk about themselves and how they do things?
  • Can you see photos or examples of their work?
  • Is the presentation by the remodeler professional?  Do they address your questions and concerns well? Are the photographs clear?  (They may be on the website.)
  • Do they have recent references?  Get both current & past customers (5-10yrs)
  • Make sure you check references. Ask questions beyond, “Are you happy with the work?” or “Would you use this remodeler again?” Ask about the remodeling process—”How it was to work with The Cleary Company?” Ask questions only they as homeowners can address.

Things You Will Want to Learn Before Making a Decision

  • Do they provide design/build services, or construction only?
  • What types of projects do they specialize in? (Type, quality, price range) Do they do the kind of work you are looking to have done?
  • Do they have a specialty?
  • How many projects like yours have they done?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How long has the owner been in the industry and in what capacities?
  • What about their staff and subcontractors?  Are they and their subcontractors licensed and fully insured?  How will you know?
  • Do they and their subcontractors carry workers compensation insurance for all workers?
  • How will they work around your family’s schedule and/or pet needs?


  • How is the architectural design handled? Is it done in-house or contracted out?
  • What are the qualifications of your designer/architect?
  • Is the design fee a fixed percent of the project, or hourly?
  • How will they present their design ideas? Do they use Computer Aided Design and provide you with detailed computer generated renderings?
  • How do they assure that what they design can be built within your budget?
  • How many revisions are permitted during the design phase before you incur more costs?
  • Do they deliver exactly what you ask for, or do they add value by making well thought-out recommendations?
  • Do they view the design process as a way to provide you with what you already have in mind, or a way to solve your problems and achieve your goals?
  • Do you like the designs, aesthetics, and functionality of the work they’ve done?
  • Will they give you a written schedule?


  • If they use allowances to develop the contract price, do they base the allowances on low, medium, high, premium, or super premium quality products and materials?  Are these quality selections in line with what you are looking for?
  • Do they provide full turnkey services?  If so, what does that include? What would your responsibilities be?
  • How do they handle change orders?  Is there an administrative fee?
  • How do they help you with product, color, materials, and other selections?
  • Who handles variance issues, permits, licenses, and government and environmental approvals and inspections?
  • Is there one person who will be responsible for your job from start to finish and through the warranty period? Who is this person and what are their qualifications?
  • In what specific ways do they stand behind their work?
  • What is their clean up policy or process at the end of each workday & at the end of a job?

Certifications and Associations

  • What are the qualifications of the architects/designers? Are they licensed?
  • What is the experience of and certifications held by their construction team?
  • Are they licensed and fully insured in your area? What are the insurance limits? What about their subcontractors? Will they provide you documentation of the licenses and coverage?
  • How specifically does their insurance protect you, the homeowner? Do you need any special homeowner overage?
  • Do they belong to industry organizations such as:
    • National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
    • National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
    • Remodelers Advantage (RA)
    • Building Industry Association of Central Ohio (BIA)
    • American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
    • National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)
    • Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The Role of Chemistry

  • Decide if you feel you can trust them in your home.  Do you feel comfortable and confident in them?  What does your gut say?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the Companies employees and team members?
  • Does the remodeler appear to be knowledgeable?  Are you confident in their expertise?
  • What is their philosophy about what they do?
  • Can they describe the process they use for a smooth successful project?
  • Do you feel comfortable communicating with your remodeler?
  • Do you feel the remodeler really understands what you want from the project and from them?
  • Do they have a mission or vision statement?  What are their core values?
  • Do you feel they will do the job or go above & beyond what you expect?

Tips For Getting Remodeling Bids:

Preparing for your project

First, know what you want to accomplish. Do you need more living space? Would you like a new kitchen? A new master bedroom suite? More storage? Ask yourself what problems you hope to solve with the project.

Make two lists

A “must-have” and a “wish” list. The first list includes things you can’t live without – new air-conditioning, a granite kitchen counter, a larger shower, etc.

The second list is for features you can sacrifice to save money.

Collect magazine pictures of things you like, to help describe what you want. We will start you a portfolio to save ideas and interests.

Know your budget, but be careful of preconceived ideas of costs. Often clients will abandon ideas before bringing them to the discussion because they’ve assumed their wants are too expensive. Let us help by letting us know all of your wants. There may be an alternative solution which is less costly, or you may be working under a misconception of real costs.

Having said that, contractors are often asked to bid on designs which are beyond the home-owner’s budget. Work with an experienced design + build contractor. Tell the contractor your budget so they can help design a cost-effective project. An honest contractor will not inflate their bid to match your budget.

Tips for Shopping for a Contractor

We realize you’re still shopping for the right contractor for your project. You’ll be gathering a lot of information about various firms as you keep shopping, and we’d like to offer a few pointers when comparing firms.

1. Getting several bids

Although budget is always important, the competitive bidding process can put the emphasis on price, not necessarily product quality or service intangibles. Beyond budget, it is important for you to interview contractors and designers for your project until you find someone you can feel comfortable working with.

2. Selection criteria: Try to determine beforehand what criteria you will use to make your decision.

  • Is it really just price?
  • Will the contractor return your phone calls in a timely matter?
  • Will he or she start and finish your project within a reasonable amount of time?
  • Do they work on a guaranteed fixed price?
  • Who will be working on your project and will they be respectful of your property, kids, pets, and neighbors?

3. Some questions to ask when interviewing a contractor: Your remodeler will be a fixture of your daily life for the duration of your project. It makes sense to make sure you feel comfortable asking this person questions and thoroughly discussing what you want and how the contractor will approach the project. Here’s a brief list to get you started choosing a design + build remodeling contractor:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who is your designer and what are their qualifications?
  • Who will be working on the project?
  • Are they employees or subcontractors?
  • Does your company carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance?
  • How many projects like mine have you completed?
  • May I have a list of references?
  • May I have a list of business referrals and suppliers?
  • What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?

The Cleary Company Team would love the opportunity to earn your business!