How to Hire a Contractor: A Checklist with 7 Tips
Remodeling is a big task that comes with a lot of responsibilities. If you are thinking of renovating only a small section of the house, chances are that you can get it done by yourself. However, if you plan to do more than one room, it makes sense to hire a contractor. They can take care of things like installing roofing and painting kitchen cabinets.
But that’s not all that contractors do. They can also take on necessary permits, labor, inspections, materials, and equipment to ensure no hiccups in your remodeling process. However, we can find a good contractor without telling you just how tricky it can be to find a good contractor. If you don’t do your job right and end up with the wrong company, you might experience delays, legal problems, and subpar work.
Thus, to help you with your search, we have compiled a list of tips you should keep in mind when looking for a contractor. Keep on reading.
How to Hire a Good Contractor
If you choose the right contractor, they can offer you their skills, knowledge, and specialized experience for your project. But it’s easier said than done. Here are a few things worth knowing to make sure that you choose the perfect company that fits the goals you want to achieve for your project.
1 Trust your instincts
This might seem unnecessary, but it is important to go with your gut when choosing a contractor. You will let the person into your home for a considerable number of days, and they will have access to certain things that may be personal to you. Hence, you must trust the person completely. If there is any reason that makes you question your decision, it is best to back and go on to the next contractor.
It is best if you go for a contractor that doesn’t sugarcoat their words and comes straight to the point. Do not entertain any embellishments, and certainly do not allow the company to sway you with their words. Thus, find a contractor that you have 100% faith in.
You need to know what you want before hiring a contractor. Before you hurry and select a contractor, you must give yourself some time and think about what you particularly want for your house; the amenities, the appearance, the layout, and everything else. You can only have complete trust in your company if you are certain of your own decisions.
2 Do phone interviews and meet face-to-face
The first thing you need to do is make a list of contractors who seem like a good fit to you. You can go through a contractor directory to connect with them and learn more about them. Conduct phone interviews first to narrow down your list further. Ask questions like, will they be able to fulfill the goal of your project, how many projects they manage simultaneously, and can they provide work samples and a list of clients they have worked with previously?
Finding answers to these questions help to decide whether the contractors are up your alley. However, phone interviews are only some, even if you search for a contact number and find many leads. To completely decide upon a contractor, you must meet them upfront and ensure that the communication is smooth so that they can carry out your ideas in the best way possible.
3 Get multiple estimates
Budget is a big factor when renovating your house. You will be investing a lot of money into the project, so it is only natural that you want your money’s worth. And the best way to decide and come to a conclusion about your budget is by comparing estimates from different contractors. Compare at least three estimates, if not more. Evaluate how the costs and the companies stack up against each other. This will allow you to have a better idea of what the market rates are.
Moreover, the costs of different contractors also have a lot to do with their quality of work. For instance, a contractor with low rates might offer marginal work, while a contractor with higher rates might have better quality. However, that’s only sometimes the case. Therefore, it is your responsibility to carry out your homework and evaluate factors like building materials, timelines, and work methods to make a better decision.
4 Look at work samples
Choosing a contractor can be an overwhelming process, but knowing what kind of work your contractor can do makes the procedure a little easier. And you can get that idea if you go through their work samples and check out their history. You bear three things in mind when doing so: work quality, workmanship, and customer service. Some contractors are specialists, and some contractors are generalists.
Thus, you need to find a company that can carry out the idea you have in mind. Moreover, test them on several factors like professionalism, punctuality, and client satisfaction. Find answers to questions like does the contractor pick up your calls promptly? Do they make it to the appointments timely? Does the dress code of the workers reflect cleanliness? These indicators will help you decide upon the contractor’s quality of work.
Lastly, if you have managed to get a list of previous clients from the contractor, make sure to call them up to learn about the customers’ experience. Ask about how their project went and, if possible, see some pictures. Also, ask if the contractor could meet the client’s goals.
5 Get everything in writing
Make sure to put everything in writing before any work begins. The contract should be clear and detailed and feature all the project information. You can have a lawyer check the contract before signing it if needed. The description must contain information like worker’s compensation payments and proof of liability insurance, payment schedule, an estimated timeline of the project, and specific materials. Getting a contract drawn up doesn’t mean you don’t trust your contractor. It is just a backup since substantial costs are involved.
Whenever the contractor promises something, make sure to add it to the contract and have all parties agree. It means that everyone agrees to the conditions and the work can begin without problems. Moreover, the price of each item must be listed so there is no discrepancy about that later on in the project.
Keep all the documents in one place. Be it the contract, receipts, payments, or contact information, try to be organized so that you do not lose anything and end up in trouble later on.
6 Think locally
It is best to go for contractors in your vicinity who know the area well and have experience working in it. Working with a local contractor ensures reliability, and you can rest assured knowing that the contractor might be trustworthy since they wouldn’t have lasted in your area otherwise. Moreover, if you go for a local contractor, you will be able to get recommendations or reviews from people in the community, which will allow you to make better decisions.
Choosing a local contractor means that the company is involved in your community, and most importantly, the workers will probably be local too. If you run into any trouble, the contractor will have an easier time fixing it.
7 Contractor should be licensed
Last but definitely not least, the contractor must be licensed. It means that they have taken an examination and are thus familiar with building processes and codes. If necessary, ask for the contractor’s license number to be on the safe side. It reduces your chances of getting duped.
Also, make sure that the contractor is insured. You could be liable if they are not and a worker gets hurt on the job site. Hence, you must ask for evidence of insurance. The contractor must have workers’ compensation insurance, property damages coverage, and personal liability insurance.
Your home is the most precious thing to you, and before you can select someone to work on it, you must do your homework and plan everything out. Choosing the right contractor can bring you one step closer to having your dream home. However, selecting the right contractor can make things go smoothly pretty soon. Thus, keep the recommendations mentioned above in mind and begin your search for the perfect contractor!