6 Tips for Hiring the Right Contractor for You
When you choose to remodel your home, there are a lot of things to consider. While some of the most exciting parts can be picking out paint colors and tiles, choosing the right contractor will make the difference between a great experience and a terrible ordeal. Here are some tried and true tips for choosing the right contractor for you.
Ask around to friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. and get some recommendations of who is respected and known for quality work. If you know some local building inspectors, they may even be good ones to check with since they will have a good sense of the quality of different contractors’ work.
You can start with phone interviews to help you narrow down your list of top 3, but never skip the in-person interview. Keep asking lots of questions and trust your gut.In addition to their technical expertise, it is important that you like the person. It is very likely they will be in your home a lot over the course of the project. Not to mention, remodeling your whole home or even just a part of it is a stressful experience. You want to make sure there is at least a level of respect and trust between you and your contractor. If you don’t feel like you can establish that at least, then move on to the next candidate.
Know What You Want
Once you narrow your list down, make sure you know what you want in your project and have blueprints if the job is that size. Talking to contractors before you know what you want, will lead to a lot of confusion in the bids and potentially a lot of additional charges later. It is best to have a solid idea before contacting them. It doesn’t mean you can be flexible and adjust some elements based on their expertise. But you want to make sure you are getting quotes on the same thing from everyone so you can compare apple to apple.
Set up a Payment Schedule
Make sure you get an agreement on a reasonable payment schedule. An acceptable payment plan may vary depending on the size of your job or the type of materials involved. It is pretty common to pay 10% at the contract signing and then payments (usually 25%) spread out over the duration of the project. Typically, there is a final amount due once the project is 100% completed and everything on the final punch list is completed.
Get it in Writing
Make sure that every detail of each step of the project is spelled out in the contract. Some items you want to ensure are included would be:
- Payment Schedule
- Current copies of their proof of Liability Insurance, Worker’s Compensation, and their license and bonding certificate
- Start Date
- Projected Completion Date
- Require Lien Releases. Require that the contractor gets lien releases from his subcontractors and suppliers. This protects you if the contractor doesn’t pay his bills.
Price Isn’t Everything
You want to be wary of a bid that is significantly lower than the others. This contractor is more than likely cutting corners or desperate for work, which is not usually a good sign (at least when the economy is healthy). It is more important that you can communicate well with your contractor and are comfortable working with them.