So, you’ve finally decided to take the leap into remodeling your home, and now it’s time to find a contractor. Of course, you don’t want to hire just anyone, so how can you find the right contractor to hire for your project?
A home improvement project doesn’t need to be a stressful, negative experience. By doing some research and knowing what to look for, you can find the right contractor for your project. Here are some helpful tips and steps you can take to help narrow your list of potential contractors.
You wouldn’t go to a vet for your heart condition, would you? The same should apply to hiring a contractor for your project. Contractors, just like any other profession, can specialize in specific areas. So, it’s important to look for a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need to have done. This can also help your entire project run smoothly and efficiently.
So, it’s important to look for a contractor who specializes in the type of work you need to have done. This can also help your entire project run smoothly and efficiently.
Don’t just take someone’s word for their qualifications. You can check the qualifications of your potential contractor with your local licensing board. This is usually classified into residential and commercial.
It’s important that your contractor is licensed no matter what size project you have. This means that they have an in-depth knowledge of the contracting industry. This includes:
- current building codes
- safety policies
- how to handle and dispose of hazardous materials
- labor and hiring laws
- permitting requirements
In general, most states will require a contractor’s license if the work they’ll be doing is over $500 in value. Your local agency should be able to tell you if your contractor had to take a written exam to get his license. This agency can also tell you what other licenses and certifications your contractor holds.
Your local agency should be able to tell you if your contractor had to take a written exam to get his license. This agency can also tell you what other licenses and certifications your contractor holds.
Bonded and Insured
Of course, you want to choose a contractor who’s bonded and insured as well. So what does this mean for a homeowner? This means that you have protection against things like incomplete work or unpaid subcontractors. With a bonded and insured contractor, you’re protected against things like:
- home and property damage
Again, these requirements and minimums can vary depending on location. It’s a good idea to check with your local agency for specific requirements in your area. A professional should be able to produce proof of coverage during your initial consultation.
You Get What You Pay For
Sometimes, the cheapest estimate isn’t always the best. It’s important to remember that price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. It’s always recommended that you get several estimates from local contractors before choosing one.
An estimate that is significantly lower than the rest could spell trouble. These contractors could be cutting costs by hiring sub-par subcontractors among other things.
Don’t be hesitant to ask questions. It is certainly acceptable to ask how a contractor arrived at a specific number in your estimate. It’s also okay to ask why items are higher than a competitor’s estimate.
Referrals are important. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential contractor for references from previous clients. Be sure to call and ask questions like:
- Did the contractor stay on budget?
- How long did the project take and was it completed in the timeframe quoted?
- How well did the contractor communicate during the project?
It’s important to get as much detailed information as possible. The more you know, the more you’ll know what to expect from your potential contractor.
Get a Detailed Estimate
It’s never a good idea to take an over-the-phone estimate or a verbal one for that matter. You want to make sure you get everything in writing. Your estimate should contain as much detail as possible so that you know where your money is going.
A down payment or deposit might be in order, depending on the size and complexity of your project. This is a good practice and shows your contractor you are sincere in your intentions. Typically, this can be up to 33% of your total cost. Always make sure that this is part of your contract.
Communication Is Key
Communication is the key to success. It’s important to set the right tone from the beginning. This will eliminate any misunderstandings along the way. Address any expectations you may have and think about how involved you want to be in the project. Also, consider the following:
- Do you want regular meetings to discuss budget and timelines?
- Are you okay with the crew using your bathroom facilities during the project?
- What time would you like the project to start and stop each day?
- Do you expect work to continue during weekends?
- Do you want to be a part of the material selection process?
By getting things straight right from the start, there will be less room for negative experiences along the way.