Many homeowners find themselves in a position where they either need to or want to renovate their home. The key to a job well done is hiring the right contractor. It’s almost impossible to do, with so many options available, and you can’t rush when you are looking for one. But fear not! Here are ten principles you need to follow to get one of the best contractors on the market.
1. Take Your Time Looking for the Right Contractor
There are plenty of places to find the right guy to work with. You need to do online research, ask your friends, ask your family and even go to the local hardware store to see if they know anyone you can trust. You should exhaust every possibility you can think of. You should make a contractor list before you make the big decision.
The key here is to ask people who have had similar renovations in their house and know for a fact that the job was done properly. If you can’t find someone you know fit for what you need, a good contractor will have to do.
2. Keep your Options Open.
Once you have asked everyone in town about the right contractor, you will probably have more than one name on your list. And that’s okay. You won’t interview only one contractor — you will narrow it down to three or five people.
3. Ask Plenty of Questions.
Once you have decided on three to five names, you need to contact them. Schedule a phone interview after work hours if possible. This way you can ask plenty of questions without interrupting their work. Tell them about your future renovations and ask them if they can take on the job, how they would complete the job, and how long will it take. You should also ask about their materials, who do they work with (subcontractors), and about anything else they would need to work.
4. Ask for References.
If you are satisfied with the phone interview, end the call with one last question – Ask for references of previous jobs they have done. Check with former clients if they were satisfied for what they paid for and if the job was finished on time. Ask subcontractors if they got paid on time as well.
5. Know Who You Are Hiring.
If you have the time, run a background check on your contractor before completing the hire. You should also be upfront about it. They are not obliged to comply with some of your questions — but how they answer will give you plenty of information regardless.
Even though going to the courthouse to check on your soon to be contractor seems silly, there are plenty of online websites that can do the work for you.
6. How Much Are You Willing to Pay .
Once you know who you are going to hire, make your own budget and see how much you are willing to pay to fix your home. Remember, home renovations are expensive, and you are going to put money on the table either way. Once you know how much you are willing to spend -or rather, how much money you can pay- you need to call your contractor again to discuss your budget.
7. Don’t Let Price Cloud Your Judgement.
The lowest bid and the highest bid are probably wrong. Like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Keep your mind clear and don’t let the price cloud your judgment unless you want to face a rainy day. Make sure the contractor’s budget matches yours.
Keep in mind costs can vary a good 10 or 15% before the job is finished. That should be in your budget, but not necessarily in the contractor’s budget.
8. Ask for a Detailed Bid.
Your contractor should have no problem giving you an itemized bid when they are creating a budget. They should specify the cost of materials, subcontractors, and everything else needed for the job. There should be no grey areas when it comes to your budget and you should know where every dollar is going. Many people feel uncomfortable asking for something like this but remember: it’s your money.
If they are not willing to give you a detailed bid, you might as well look for another contractor to work with.
9. Check for Insurance and Permits.
You need to check your contractor’s insurance and yours as well. Make sure you know what your homeowner’s insurance covers and what your contractor’s insurance should cover. Research online what kind of permits you are going to need to get started and make sure your contractor is going to get them all.
If your contractor doesn’t want to get the permits himself and asks you to get them, you are facing a huge red flag and you need to hire someone else immediately.
10. Look out for Red Flags.
Besides your contractor asking you to get the necessary permits, there are plenty of red flags you can expect from a bad contractor or a downright scammer. As you know, not providing an itemized bid is a no-go. If they want all the money upfront, or sometime before the job is finished, it is a huge red flag you need to watch out for, no matter what your possible contractor says.
If a contractor’s bid is extremely low, verify that all your information and their information is correct. If the quote is extremely high, research the company more thoroughly and ask questions as to why their rate is above the going market value of the services you are needing. Very low and high quotes are not necessarily a scam or indicative of the service you will be receiving but it is something to investigate.