Hiring a contractor to work on your home is a big decision. These projects cost a significant amount of money, and having the right contractor can be the difference between a successful project and one that turns into a nightmare.
Whether you are doing something like a bathroom remodel or planning an addition to your home, you need to take the time to find the right home contractor. The following steps can help homeowners that are looking to hire a contractor in their area.
Build a List
The first step is to build a list of suitable contractors in your area. You could start the list by asking friends and family members for referrals, but you could also look at online listings or in the phonebook. You want to make sure that the contractors on the list actual do the type of project that you need for your home, and you also want to do a little research into their background.
This initial list will be a little long, so you need to narrow it down by checking some facts about the contractors. Look for reviews online to see what past customers have said about them, and you can also look to things like the Better Business Bureau, check their ratings with different trade organizations, and check details like licensing or whether they have any claims against them. If you find any red flags, cross the contractor off the list.
With this shortlist, you want to call all of the remaining contractors and hold a phone interview. You can ask if you can see some photos of previous work, if they can refer you to any past customers and if your project sounds like something they can do. You might also want to ask for financial references from banks and suppliers.
After the phone interviews, you should have it narrowed down to about 3-5 contractors. At this stage, it is time to hold an in-person meeting. Go to see the contractors at their offices, ask them some questions and see how well you communicate with each other. If things go well in the initial meeting, it is time to start taking bids from the remaining contractors.
Get Bids and Make Plans
You’ll want to consult with the remaining contractors so you can develop some plans for the project and start taking bids. A good contractor should go over all of the details with you, and draw up a set of plans for the project. Beyond just he plans and the overall cost, you should try to get a breakdown of the expenses for the project, the expected schedule for the completion of the project and the payment schedule.
When you are comparing the bids, you want to compare things like the cost of materials, the labor costs, the estimated completion date and the payment schedule. If the contractor is asking for a lot upfront, it could be a sign that they have financial problems. With most contracts, the homeowner will make a down payment and then make follow-up payments as the project progresses to different stages.
Don’t Focus on the Price
When you hire a contractor to work on your home, you obviously want to get the best deal possible. However, if the price is too low, that can be a warning sign. If one contractor offers a bid that is considerably lower than the competition, it can be tempting to take that offer. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself how this contractor is able to turn in a bid that is that much lower than all of the others. It could be a sign that they plan to use cheaper materials or that they are going to cut corners. Price is important, but you don’t want to save money at the expense of quality or competence.