From Matt Wilson on October 16, 2013 in Tools and Tips
Big projects around the home require a home improvement contractor. With companies specializing in everything from polished concrete to custom fixtures, choosing a contractor is an overwhelming experience. If you plan well and take your time to find a professional, your job will turn into a masterpiece.
Do You Like Him?
Interviewing the contractor and taking them through your home is one of the first steps in finding a good professional. During casual conversation about the project, mentally note if the contractor has unique ideas that match your own about design and functionality. They should have a firm grasp on the project’s details. For example, do not hire a contractor specializing in living room design if you need your bathroom remodeled.
Although you may like the first contractor, interview at least two other companies to get a well-rounded view of project strategies and varied price quotes. If one company has an extremely cheap price tag, compare the materials and labor to the other quotes. That company may cut corners to get your business, and you end up with a poorly constructed project.
Licenses Are Critical
Every contractor must be licensed in their state of residence. Insurance, including worker’s compensation, should be up-to-date and available upon request. Contractors that have no license or insurance can easily sue you if an accident happens at your home. Check if your chosen contractor applies for the necessary building permits for previous jobs. Some companies have the customer pull permits themselves which can be very time consuming and confusing for a novice. Protect yourself by asking about all paperwork before any work begins.
Talk It Up
If your contractor has a website, view their past projects and potentially contact previous clients. These customers give you an inside view on work ethic and project quality. Avoid contractors that leave a mess or don’t complete a project as requested. Ask friends for their referrals. Other homeowners may have contractors they hire on a consistent basis because of their honest work.
Payment Is Due
Do not hire contractors that require full payment upfront. Although companies need to buy the necessary materials to start the job, a professional contractor has monetary reserves to begin the project. A percentage is typically paid up front, then small percentages (called progress payments) are usually paid out over several weeks to show good faith between the customer and contractor. At the end of the project, full payment is due. Check that all payment requirements are written down in the project contract before hiring the contractor, so there is no confusion once both parties agree on the terms.
Hiring a contractor is a research project for you, but the results are worth the effort. You may find a contractor that is able to do other projects in the future without any need to interview other companies. Choose wisely and reap the rewards of a quality home improvement project.