From Margaret Everton on March 21, 2008 in General
When you use the CalFinder service to get free estimates, we refer 3 contractors for you to choose from, sometimes more and sometimes less. So once you get those estimates, how do you choose the right contractor?
Price is definitely a determining factor, but the cheapest doesnt always mean the best contractor for the job. Believe me, I made that mistake with a cabinet builder and am still paying for it in time, seven months later. In some cases, if a bid is drastically lower than the other estimates, there might be a problem. Either the contractor is really suffering for work, doesnt have a good track record, or has underestimated time and materials. If this is the case, he will try to find a way for you to pay him more at some point, whether through finding an unforeseen problem or some other measure. On the other hand, though, some contractors can work efficiently, and would rather charge less and get more jobs than make a lot on just one project. In order to make your decision, youll have to take these other factors into account as well.
Reputation and References.
Either youre working through a referral service such as CalFinder or you have done the legwork yourself. Whatever the case, be sure to learn a lot about your contractors previous work before you sign that contract. If may be difficult to obtain information as to their previous clients, but you can at least check out their license through the state for any complaints or liens. It wont matter if they promise you the world on a gold platter; if they don’t have the background to back it up, youre in trouble.
Likeability and Compatibility.
This may seem like a minute detail, but you want to feel comfortable with the person who is going to be working in your home for an extended period of time. You need to be able to trust him around your family and belongings when youre not around. You also want someone who is easy to communicate with, has a strong work ethic, is presentable, and will be respectful of your family life. A remodel will be disruptive to your life, and you want a contractor to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Whichever estimate you decide to go with, be sure the contract is clear, specific, and detailed. Leave nothing up to interpretation, and discuss thoroughly all details ahead of time. Be sure the price and time estimate are clearly defined, as well as repercussions if the contract is not adhered too.
Despite the few bad apples that tend to give contractors a bad reputation, many contractors are quite professional, are very hard working, and pride themselves on their strong reputations. Not only that, but their livelihood depends on repeat and referral business, and many work very hard to satisfy you with their craftsmanship.
Ask CalFinder if you would like to receive free estimates from reputable, clean and concise contractors.