12 Valuable Tips for Choosing the Right Contractor for Remodeling or Home Improvements

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For most homeowners, the most difficult part of getting home improvements and a remodel done is not the work itself. The hardest thing is to find a good contractor to do the work. Before taking out a HELOC or an equity loan, it makes sense to get a plan. Redoing a kitchen or bathroom is actually pretty simple compared with the task of finding the best contractor who will do the job right and at a good price.

home remodel


Here are some essential tips to make it easier to find the right contractor for your home renovation project:

#1 Know What You Want

Before you even talk to a single contractor, have a good idea of the exact renovations that you want. You will always get a better price estimate if you speak to a contractor with a precise list of the improvements you want to make.

#2 Get References

People who live in your area who have done home renovations before are great resources. If you know people in construction, you can ask them as well.

#3 Talk to At Least Three Crews

Many people only interview one contractor because they just want to get the work done. But you should talk to at least three companies and ask them a lot of questions. Also get a written bid for the work you want to have done. Each one should have the same materials and tasks so that you can easily compare them. You should get at least three bids because you can always learn something from each contractor you talk to. Plus, you may find that one is significantly cheaper than the other.

#4 Good Contractors Are Busy

When you find a good contractor with a good price, do not expect them to start right away. The best contractors usually have full schedules.

#5 Check Who Will Do What Work

When you hire a contractor, one thing that is important to understand is who is going to do which work. You may hire a contractor who is actually going to bring in subcontractors to do some of the work, such as plumbing or electrical. This is ok, but you should know in advance who is going to be doing each part of the job.

#6 Choose the Right Contractor

The best contractor for your job will depend upon which work you want to have done. Someone who did a great job on the tile in your neighbor’s bathroom may not be the one to redo your entire kitchen. You should find a good contractor who does the sort of work you want done on a regular basis.

#7 Check Their Licenses

Whoever you hire for your job, general contractors should have licenses and be insured. Also, you should check if there are any complaints about the contractor on file and if they have ever been sued for breach of contract. It is smart to check with the Better Business Bureau and the local courts. Also, get a copy of the contractor’s license and copies of licenses for any subcontractors they use.

#8 Check Their References

All good contractors should have good references so be sure you get at least two or three who have had work like yours. It is a good idea to actually talk to previous customers in person or on the phone. This will give you a better idea of how the contractor is to work with. Many projects can take weeks or even months, so you should really have a good feel for what the contractor is like.

#9 Read Online Reviews

It is important to check verified, online reviews of the contractor, but you should not stop there. You should always check the references of the contractor no matter how good the online reviews are.

#10 Sign the Contract but Read Carefully

It is very important that the contract you sign state exactly what is going to be done, and should include deadlines, how you will pay, and the exact materials that will be used, even down to the model number and who is going to provide which materials. If you do not have everything clearly documented, then it is your word against theirs.

#11 Get All Permits

All work that is being done in your home should have the proper permits. If you do not get them, you could run into trouble when you try to sell your home. Look out for the contractor who wants you to get the permits – they are the contractors and they should get them. Permit costs are usually included in the price of the renovation work being done.

#12 Don’t Pay More Than 10% Up Front

Many contractors will want a down payment before work commences, but it is not recommended to pay more than 10% up front.

Now that you know some of the best tips for selecting and working with a contractor, your home renovation project has a higher chance of success.

About Bryan Dornan

Bryan Dornan is Chief Editor of RefiGuide.org. Bryan has worked in the mortgage industry for over 20 years and has a wealth of experience in providing mortgage clients with the highest level of service in the industry. Bryan's continual focus is to promote affordable home-ownership to consumers like you across the United States. Should you have any questions about articles like this, let him know.