Some home improvement projects can be done without the help of a professional. But, if you have a remodel in mind, it’s important to hire a contractor. General contractors work with homeowners from the start to the finish of a remodeling project. Because contractors play such an important role in the remodel, it’s crucial to hire one that’s reliable and experienced. Here’s how to find a contractor for your remodel:
Create A Short List
Start your search by creating a short list of qualified contractors in the community. Ask friends, colleagues, and family members if they know of anyone who should be added to the list. It’s also smart to ask managers at local hardware and home improvement stores for recommendations. Once you have five to ten names, move on to the next step to start the process of narrowing down this list.
Never hire a contractor without checking their credentials first. Licensing requirements for contractors can vary by the city, county, or state. Research these licensing requirements so you know what credentials the contractors in your area should have. If a contractor cannot provide proof of these credentials, it’s best to cross his name off of the list.
Dedicated contractors may also have certifications and designations from professional organizations within the industry. For example, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers certifications for contractors that specialize in various areas of remodeling. Contractors must make it through a rigorous testing process to earn one of these certifications. Therefore, the contractors with these certifications are usually the most committed and skilled.
Visit A Work Site
During the interview process, ask each contractor if they are currently working on any projects in the area. If they are, see if it is possible to make a quick trip to one of their work sites. This is a great way to see how the contractors work before letting them into your home.
Ask to See Their Finished Work
If you’re satisfied with the contractor’s performance during the work site visit, ask to see some of their finished work. Be sure to ask to see remodeling projects that are similar to yours. For instance, if you are remodeling a kitchen, the contractor should show you examples of other kitchens he has transformed. Pay close attention to the details of the work when flipping through the contractor’s portfolio. Are the backsplash tiles slightly crooked? Are a few of the cabinets missing pulls or handles? These are signs that the contractor is not detail-oriented, which means he probably does not meet your standards.
There should be a few contractors that stand out more than others at this point in the process. Choose your favorite three contractors and ask to meet with them in person to discuss your project. Explain your vision for the remodel so they understand what you have in mind. Then, ask each contractor to submit a written bid.
Comparing the bids means much more than simply choosing the contractor with the lowest price. Remember, price is one of many factors that must be considered when finding the right contractor.
The bid should be incredibly detailed and organized so it’s easy to understand how much each item and project involved in the remodel costs. For example, it’s best for a contractor to write “3 chandelier lighting fixtures to hang over the kitchen island” instead of “lighting fixtures.” Every aspect of the job should be outlined in this manner so there is no confusion about the cost of the project.
The bid should also include an estimated start and completion date. This is another important aspect that should be carefully considered when choosing a contractor. Some homeowners would rather pay more for a contractor that is willing to do the work quickly than save a few hundred dollars on a contractor that will take months to complete the job.
Put Everything in Writing
By this step in the process, you should know which contractor seems like the best fit for the job. Before he begins working, ask him to put everything in writing. The contractor should include information on the payment schedule, estimated timeframe of the entire project, and penalties for missing deadlines. The contract should also outline the specifics of the project and a rough schedule of when each task will be completed.
Most contracts will also include a change-order clause. This clause describes the process that homeowners must follow if they would like to change something in the original plans. Review this clause carefully to ensure you are comfortable with its terms.
Look For Warning Signs
There are certain warning signs that homeowners should look out for when searching for a contractor. For example, never work with a contractor that only accepts cash payments or refuses to share any of his past work with you. These are both signs that the contractor is operating some sort of scam, so steer clear.
Acting unprofessionally or showing up late for appointments are both red flags that indicate the contractor is difficult to work with. You should also trust your instincts when it comes to finding the right fit. If someone is giving off a bad vibe, it’s best not to allow him in your home. You will be working closely with whoever you choose, so find someone that you trust.
Remodeling a home is much easier with the right contractor on the job. By following these tips, you can find the perfect contractor to help with the transformation of your home!