Ten Tips to Find and Hire the Best Contractor for Your Remodeling Project
One of the most frequently-asked questions on my forum at www.remodelestimates.com is “How do I find the right contractor for my remodeling project?” There are many important steps and considerations in choosing and hiring a contractor for a remodeling project. There should be a lot of research and checking information before making a contractor choice.
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Here are the top ten tips I offer to homeowners about finding and hiring the best contractor for a remodeling project.
1. Look for a contractor with a strong track record of success in your community. This person will have survived and thrived in the community. The business will be well established in the community, and people will know the contractor and his or her work.
2. Look for a contractor with knowledge and experience in the kind of work you want done. Experience is important. You need a contractor who has experience and knowledge of the specific kind of work you want done. For example, you don’t want to hire a roofer to do an electrical job. When interviewing contractors for your project — ask them what projects they are working on now. They likely are doing several — if one or more is a project similar to yours, that’s a good sign.
3. Check vital information on the contractor. Check with the state or local licensing board if contractors are required to be licensed in your area to ensure that the contractor is properly licensed to do the kind of work you need and that the license is current. Also check on the contractor’s insurance. Ask contractors you are considering for the project to show you their insurance certification. Then call the insurance company and check to ensure the policy is current.
4. Check the contractor’s record. Check with the Better Business Bureau, local courts, and search on the internet to find out if there have been any complaints or court cases involving the contractor. Also consider performing a background check. Many companies on the internet offer this service.
5. Develop a clear description of the project, including your workmanship expectations, materials and quality of materials before you discuss the project with a contractor. Your ability to be clear and specific allows the contractor to offer informed opinions and accurate estimates. It is also wise to be open about your budget from the outset, and if the cost is a major concern for you, ask the contractors you interview for their advice on how to minimize the cost.
6. Ask for and then check professional references. Ask for the contractor’s standard references, and then ask for several references from projects that contractor is working on currently, as well as several references for projects the contractor completed recently that are very similar to yours. When you talk to the reference ask all the standard questions. Also ask what went wrong and how the contractor made it right.
7. Organize your project and the interview process. Make or buy an organizer to manage the business cards, literature, quotes, estimates and notes that you will accumulate during your search. A good organizer is The Complete Remodeling Workbook and Organizer. Use an interview script for both the contractor and references and a standard list of questions that you answer after the interview so you can compare contractors objectively.
8. Ask a lot of questions during the interview about the contractor, the project and the estimate. Not only do you need answers to specific questions, you need to evaluate your ability to communicate with the contractor. This is also an opportunity to decide whether you do or do not trust the contractor to be in your home and around your family.
9. Carefully compare and evaluate all estimates. I usually recommend that homeowners get at least 5 estimates. You will then need to compare the estimates, including all the details, in order to decide who to hire. Ensure that all of the estimates reflect the same workmanship, finished work, quality of materials, and schedule. If you are having difficulty comparing estimates, ask the contractor to help you make the comparison. If a contractor isn’t helping you with this, then he/she probably is not the right one for you to work with.
10. Get a good contract. Get a contract that is based on the total final cost of the project (not an estimate). Be certain that everything is included in the contract. Sample contracts are available at www.remodelestimates.com. If any changes from the details in the contract are made during the work process, ensure that all changes and costs are put in writing with a change order.
If you found this article helpful, you might also want to read:
Introduction to Contracts
Contractor Referral Service