Does the thought of going away to your Northern home or on vacation while your home is in the middle of a remodel make you shudder? Many homeowners are afraid to come home to a botched job if they’re not there to watch over the process. But is the worry necessary?

Naturally, there are certain remodeling jobs where you must temporarily relocate: asbestos and mold removal, major roof remodeling, wood floor refinishing, and other deep, significant structural remodels that could impact your health or safety until the job is finished. Even then, you’ll likely stop by regularly to check progress.

But with the right contractor, you really can go spend a few months at your vacation home and come back to a beautifully remodeled home, on time and on budget, without having to live through all the dust and noise—it all hinges on a trusted, experienced contractor.

Follow these 6 secrets to pick a contractor you can completely trust to master your home remodeling project while you’re away:

1. How Well Does Your Contractor Communicate?

Can you get a hold of your contractor if there is an urgent decision or question that needs quick attention to avoid halting or delaying the project?

Here’s the way to tell:

  • Are you assigned a project manager who gives you direct access to their mobile number?
  • Is the owner also easily accessible?
  • Does the contractor have virtual conferencing and 3D Design capabilities?  Working with a design-build contractor that is adept at utilizing this type of technology makes it possible to do everything from the initial design consultation and walk through to final decisions on material selections, all while you’re at your second home or on vacation.

During your first meetings with the contractor, pay close attention to their communication style. When you leave a message, how quick are they to call back? How responsive are they during the planning process? Long delays, unreturned calls, or a lack of attention to detail can be warning signs. Quick responses, attentiveness, and the right technology tools are indicators you’re working with the right contractor.

2. How Does the Contractor Report Progress?

Before you leave, you should know how well your contractor keeps you up-to-date on your remodeling project’s progress. What system do they use for communication management? Is there an app they update regularly so you can check in to see how things are going

Progressive Design Build uses BuilderTrend to help clients track progress daily. This powerful, web-based construction project management software enables you to monitor your remodel’s progress, connect directly to your project manager any time, and see how things are going. Every day, you can check in to review and approve selections, sign change orders, and keep tabs on the progress with notes and photos.

3. Are Your Valuables Secured?

Just to be safe, take reasonable security precautions before you go. Removing any temptation is always the safest way to protect your valuables, particularly if walls are open during a remodel—make it look like you don’t own any valuables whatsoever. Also, remember that some fragile items could be damaged during the remodeling process. Follow this checklist for peace of mind:

  • Store valuables, art, and fragile items in a secure location—not out in the open.
  • Put all items in an out-of-view safe not easily seen or accessed by contractors or anyone else.
  • Consider putting certain items like cash, jewelry, and other small personal identification items in a safety deposit box with your bank.
  • If you don’t have a safe, store things with a trusted family member or hide them in other places nobody would think to look or have access to.
  • Consider renting a secure storage unit with a good reputation.
  • Take photographs of all stored, valuable items in case you have to report missing or stolen items with the police or your insurance company.
  • Secure anything tied to your identity: banking records, social security information, computers, family albums, etc.
  • Store all firearms securely in a locked safe, separate from ammunition.
  • Consider a configurable home security system to protect your home overnight and on the weekends when contractors are not actively working on your home.

Consider installing home-automation technology and next-generation door locks that use access codes rather than keys. Home security cameras are also a big plus—let your contractor know that you have security cameras. Place them in secure, hidden locations and, naturally, don’t mention where they are.

Keep in mind, that the best design-build contractors are licensed, bonded, trusted professionals, so even though we absolutely recommend all of these security and safety measures, understand that a great contractor will be honest with you whether you’re watching them on video or not.

4. What Is the Contractor’s Job Site Safety Measures?

It’s important to verify that your contractor follows state and CDC guidelines to ensure that any risk of COVID-19 exposure or contamination in your home is minimized. While you may be out of town on vacation or at your second home, it’s critical that the contractor’s employees are outfitted with PPEs, practice social distancing, provide water and soap or sanitizer for all employees coming or leaving the job site, and practice rigorous disinfection protocols of commonly touched surfaces in your home. These practices will guarantee you not only come back to a beautifully remodeled home but a safe and secure one as well.

5. Have You Done Your Research?

Ask trusted friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who have had remodeling done for suggestions on design-build contractors. Find out what their experiences are. If you can, go and look at their work in person. Look for reviews and ratings on trusted review websites and find out if clients have had mostly good or bad experiences with a contractor.

Another secret hint you can use is to search for the contractor’s reputation online by Googling the company name along with words like “scam”, “rip-off”, or “complaints.” If their name pops up during one of these search sessions, research deeper and follow your gut.

6. How Long Has Your Contractor Been in Business?

Very few things can replace a good reputation that stretches back decades. If a contractor has been working in the same location for a long time, you immediately know two things:

  • Their work was so good that they have repeat customers and customers who have recommended them to friends and family over the years.
  • Their experience in remodeling is deep and wide.

Look for an established design-build company whose record and reputation you can verify. Many states require contractors to be licensed, bonded and insured, and require them to be up-to-date on all local building codes and requirements. Definitely check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about the licensing requirements in your area. Licensing requirements can range from simple registrations to a detailed qualification process. If your state or municipality has licensing laws, make sure the contractor’s license is current.

Progressive Design Build has been remodeling homes in Lee and Collier counties for over three decades, and has achieved rave reviews for stunning home remodeling projects—usually while the homeowners have been away. We also offer a 3-year warranty on all work and will not rest until our clients are thrilled with their homes.

Yes, you can go on an extended vacation and come back to a beautifully remodeled home here in Southwest Florida! If you want to remodel your home, but don’t want to live through the process, please schedule a consultation with Progressive Design Build and ask for references so you can see for yourself how we’ve earned those great reviews.