Hiring the right contractor will probably be the most crucial decision you make after making the initial decision to renovate your home. More important than the color of your bathroom tiles or the type of flooring you install in the kitchen, your contractor will oversee your entire renovation project, hopefully keep you on budget, manage any hired workers, and act as your professional quality control. The work of an inattentive contractor can result in a project that runs weeks beyond its deadline and thousands of dollars over budget. That would be a formula for failure!
This is why it’s so important to select a reputable contractor. But how do you do it? Keep reading for some easy tips on how to hire the best home improvement contractor.
1. Come Prepared with a Plan
Before you even begin to search for a home contractor, develop a solid idea of what you want to accomplish with your home improvement project before you start. Consider, though, that a contractor is not a designer, so begin a project with your own ideas about how in the end you want the final outcome of the work to look.
Taking that initial step will make it easier for you to set a budget and for your prospective contractors to give you an accurate quote and project timeline.
2. Obtain Contractor Referrals
Ask your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors for contractor recommendations out of their own experiences – whether positive or negative. If, for example, your prospective contractor did a wonderful job on your sister’s house, then chances are he’ll do a great job on yours as well.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask any prospective home improvement contractors for references that you can actually call. If the person you are considering for the role is a high quality professional, then there should be no problem supplying you with the names and numbers of other satisfied customers. Once you have secured those references, make the calls!
Another avenue is to type your contractor’s name into an online search engine and see if any negative or positive reviews pop up in the search results. For example, “John Smith contractor references.”
3. Don’t be Timid about Asking Questions
When interviewing a prospective home improvement contractor, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, and make them the right questions.
Inquire about details of their contracting background and how it relates specifically to your project. For example, if your project includes a major overhaul of the deck and backyard, verify that they have experience managing landscaping projects.
Ask your potential renovation contractor how improvements might be made on your prospective plan and changes necessary to complete it under budget. An experienced contractor should be able to take a brief look through a plan and offer a number of practical suggestions.
When he presents you with a time estimate, always ask how that timeline was derived and what work will be completed in each phase. A knowledgeable contractor will have reasoning behind why he’s pegged this particular project at 6-8 weeks.
Finally, always ask to see a portfolio of previous work. The additional work to ensure you have an experienced and reliable home improvement contractor will be well worth the effort in the end.