Everyone has heard the expression, “You get what you pay for.” This saying is never more relevant than when you’re planning a home improvement or remodeling project that involves hiring a contractor.
Do your due diligence before hiring your contractor. Price should not be the only factor when making the final decision on who will build your dream home. Your home is where you spend most of your time, and you don’t want poor quality construction details staring you in the face, day after day. Make sure you take the proper steps before choosing a contractor.
If you’re getting ready to start a big remodel, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of tips for hiring remodeling contractors that will help you ensure your project is a pleasant experience from start to finish.
Do your Homework
Before calling contractors for estimates on your remodeling project, start by researching what’s involved in the project and have a good idea of what you want to be done. This can include sketching a layout of the kitchen, bath, or porch you have in mind, as well as collecting clipping you like of similar projects from magazines. Figure out what you want and what kind of contractor can make it happen. You don’t want to waste time looking for specialty contractors when your project calls for an architect. The more specific you can be, the better answers you’ll get out of your research.
Reach out to people you know or that are in your area who have had similar work done. Find out who they worked with and what their experiences with them were like. Would they recommend the company they hired? These people likely did a lot of their own research before deciding and will have useful information about companies’ reliability and reputations.
Interview Multiple Contractors
Once you have found two or three contractors that seem capable of doing the work, you’ll want to interview them. Ask them questions such as whether or not they’ve ever taken on a project of this scale if they feel confident in their ability to pull the necessary permits for the job, and how long they envision everything will take.
In the interview, be sure to listen to their answers for assuredness and professionalism. Since contractors will often be coming into your home, you want to choose someone that you’re comfortable with and who also seems capable of completing the work.
After completing your interviews, feel free to ask anyone that you’re still considering to provide a quote for the project. The quote should include the cost of materials for the remodel, as well as a price for the estimated number of labor hours.
Keep in mind that the lowest option may not always be your best pick. Do your homework in regards to how much a remodel like yours typically costs. Be sure to take factors like experience and available work samples into account. Sometimes a larger upfront cost is worth it in the long run if it means a hassle-free transaction.
Licensing and certification
Ask for contractors’ licensing and certification. In addition to making sure contractors have the correct licenses and certification to complete the job safely and legally, make sure anyone on your list has liability insurance in case they damage your home. The contractor and any other workers should also be covered by worker’s compensation. Ask for a copy of their insurance policies and check that they’re up to date.
Put in Writing
Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. Insisting on a clear contract isn’t about mistrust, it’s about ensuring a successful renovation.
Look at Work Samples
This lets you see a contractor’s handiwork and may spark ideas for your project. Samples are more important than references as they allow you to see the quality of the contractor’s work. Looking at a contractor’s past projects also lets you see the variety of work the company has performed, such as contemporary, Craftsman, or historic designs.
Dealing with the extras
Keep in mind that your contractor may not have priced some items for your renovation, such as closet organizers and bathroom accessories. Ask your contractor how he deals with extras. Some contractors use extras as an opportunity to make as much money as possible during a renovation because you are already committed to them.
Ask your contractor how long he believes it will take to complete your job and then add an extra eight weeks to help manage your expectations because there are so many unforeseen incidents that can happen on a construction site that the possibility of your job ending right on time is pretty slim.
Connect with your contractor
The right person for the job will be easy to talk to. Make sure you see eye to eye by hiring a contractor that understands your goals and has experience in the type of job you are looking for. Communication is key for all projects, so insist on regular contact by email, phone or text messages. Allow the work crew to manage their day-to-day work, but set up a weekly face-to-face update from the foreman.
Choosing a contractor is always a big decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. These tips will allow you to make an informed decision in consistently selecting a contractor that’s the best fit for your scenario.