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.
Here are 19 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.
Begin by conducting thorough research on potential contractors. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have had positive experiences. Additionally, online reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into a contractor’s reputation.
#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 Hiring a contractor for home improvement projects is a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration and planning. Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, renovating your bathroom, or tackling a major construction project, the right contractor can make all the difference. Here are some valuable pieces of advice for homeowners when dealing with contractors:
#13 Verify Credentials
Ensure that the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured. This not only demonstrates their professionalism but also protects you from potential liability in case of accidents or damage during the project.
#14 Get Multiple Quotes
Obtain detailed quotes from multiple contractors to compare prices, timelines, and the scope of work. Avoid settling for the lowest bid without scrutinizing the details, as it may indicate shortcuts or subpar materials.
#15 Check Past Work
Request a portfolio of the contractor’s past projects to assess the quality of their work. This can help you gauge their expertise and style, ensuring it aligns with your vision for the project.
#16 Clear Communication
Effective communication is crucial throughout the project. Establish clear expectations, discuss timelines, and ensure there is an open line of communication for addressing concerns or changes as they arise.
#17 Written Contract
Never proceed without a detailed, written contract. This document should outline all aspects of the project, including costs, timelines, materials, and any other pertinent details. Having a contract in place protects both parties and provides a reference point in case of disputes.
#18 Payment Schedule
Establish a payment schedule tied to project milestones. Avoid paying the full amount upfront, as this can leave you vulnerable. Instead, set up a payment plan that reflects the progress of the work.
#19 Be Mindful of Red Flags
Watch out for warning signs such as unrealistic estimates, vague contracts, or contractors who pressure you to make quick decisions. A reputable contractor will be transparent and patient in addressing your concerns.
By following these pieces of advice, homeowners can navigate the contractor selection process more confidently, leading to successful and satisfying home improvement projects.
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.