Whether you are starting a home renovation project or you are thinking about getting ready, the most important piece to the puzzle is finding and hiring the right contractors for the job. This is no easy feat either. In fact, it will likely be the hardest thing you need to do when it comes to planning your remodel. Why? Because you do not want to hire someone inexperienced or unable to do a good job for you.
Hiring the right contractor can feel very overwhelming because so much is riding on making the right decision. Below, we will guide you through the process and provide you with information on how you can make sure you are choosing the best contractors for your home renovation project.
Find Good Contractors
Easier said than done, isn’t it? The first thing you want to do before even looking for a contractor is to determine what type of project it is that you need to have done. There are different contractors for different project types.
For example, if you have a small project that is very specific in nature, you can find a contractor that handles it. You should choose a contractor specializing in the specific project, as you will get the best results from them.
If you need to have a large project completed or a project that includes multiple types of projects, then a general contractor is a better option.
If you need to have structural changes made to your home, then you will want to work with an architect, as they can assist with this. Typically, architects and contractors will work together, especially at larger companies that handle structural projects and contracts.
Once you know what type of contractor you need (general, plumber, cabinetry, etc.) you will want to sit down and attempt to locate one. You can ask your friends, family, and coworkers for their recommendations first to see if they can provide you with any leads. You should also check online to see what others are saying about their experiences with different contractors. You want to keep your eye out for concerning reviews or reviews that list the contractor or company as a rip-off or scam. These are key words that could indicate there is an issue.
Call Around to Get a Feel for Who is the Best
There is no better way to determine if a contractor is right for your project than to discuss it with them. By talking to the contractor, you will get a feel for what they can offer you. While there is no set number on how many contractors you should call, it is recommended that you call a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12. By the time you are ready to receive a quote, you should have narrowed this selection down to anywhere between 4 to 6 contractors.
When you do call, make sure that you are paying attention to every aspect of the phone conversation and how it goes. You will want to make note of these things:
- How did they speak to you throughout the conversation?
- Were they able to answer your questions?
- Did they listen to what it is you want to have done in your home?
- Were they professional?
- Did they seem like they took an interest in your project?
In addition to paying attention to those key things during the conversation, you want to make sure you have a list of questions ready to ask them. You should write these questions down so that you have them for all the phone calls you plan to make.
Here are some of the things you should ask them:
- Have they finished jobs that are similar to yours?
- Are they licensed and insured?
- Do they have references that you can talk to?
- Will they give you a detailed contract and estimate?
- When can they start the project?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can narrow down your choices to around 4 to 6 contractors that you want to come out and provide you with a quote.
Meet the Contractors You Are Considering
During your initial meeting with the contractors you are thinking of choosing, you want to make sure that you ask them plenty of questions and get a good feel for how you think they will work out. Here are some things you want to delve into further with them:
- Will they need permits for the job and will they pull them?
- How many years of experience do they have?
- Can they provide you with a detailed quote?
- How many projects like yours have they completed in the last year?
- Do they have a physical business location?
- Are they insured and licensed to work in your area?
- What is their payment and deposit schedule like?
- Can they show you a project they are currently working on?
Once you are done meeting with all the contractors, sit down and review the notes that you took during this time. You will want to determine who it is you want to work with. It is okay to have 2 or 3 choices at this point. You then want to set up another meeting with them to actually receive a quote for the job to be done. You should ask any questions you did not originally ask the first time during this meeting.
Once you have decided on the contractor you plan to use, you will want to negotiate both the price of the project and the payment to be made. You have already received a quote at this point, so you know how much they are estimating the job will cost. Typically, there is not too much wiggle room for the cost, as much of it is made up of labor costs. If you are worried about the cost, you can talk to the contractor to see if you can choose different materials to free up some money as well.
You will need to negotiate the terms of the payment and payment plan to meet your needs. Since there is no set industry standard, the contractor can create any payment plan that works for them and for you. With that said, there are usually two main options that contractors use, which include the following:
- Bid basis
- Cost plus a flat fee
For a bid basis payment, you and the contractor will work up a budget for the project and then decide and agree on a schedule of payment. This will be detailed in the contract you sign as well. This is often the choice that many homeowners choose.
For a cost plus a flat fee, the contractor will charge you an amount called the coordination and management fee plus the cost of the project itself. Your contract will detail the costs associated with each stage of the project itself. This option is usually not chosen because it can be hard to estimate the true final cost of the project itself.
Here are some tips to help you as you do discuss payment with your chosen contractor:
- NEVER pay for the project all upfront – this is a warning sign and red flag
- Do NOT pay with cash
- Use a check or credit card
- Finance larger projects that you do not have all the funds for at the moment
Creating the Contract
Creation of the contract is done by the contractor/company and your responsibility will be to review it and discuss anything that you have questions about or want to negotiate.
You do not want to rush to review the contract and should read all of it in detail to make sure you understand it. The contract is designed to tell you and the contractor what is expected from the job and what the responsibilities are of each party.
As you do review the contract, here are some things that you want to look for:
- A detailed list of materials and supplies needed
- A detailed schedule for the completion of work
- Contact information of the company/contractor
- A guarantee or warranty on product and workmanship
- Project start and end date
- Any potential time conflicts
- Financing plan and payment terms
- Names of workers who will be assigned to the project
- Details about who will clean up after the project
- Termination clause
- Names of any companies that will be subcontracted
- Names of any suppliers
- Change order provisions
The Project – Beginning and End
Throughout your project, you will want to make sure you keep records of any interactions and anything that occurs throughout the project. You should also keep track of any payments made.
Always take photographs so that you have documentation. You should always get everything in writing as well. Never agree to something that is not in writing because without it in the contract, it can be difficult to prove and often becomes a he-said-she said situation.
Before you make the final payment on your project, you should go through the work that was done and make sure that you are satisfied. If you have any grievances or concerns, you want to make sure you address them at this point. Ask any final questions you have and make sure you understand the warranties.
If you have any issues with the job or the contractor, you will want to make sure your issues are resolved. You should always try to work out the problems with the contractor first. If this does not work, you do have other options such as filing a complaint against their license, contacting your local home builder’s association, hiring an attorney, and talking to the BBB.
The Right Contractor is Essential to Your Home Improvement Project
Hiring the right contractor for your home improvement project is extremely important. Choosing a bad one can mean that the job is not done correctly. In most cases, you will find that the contractors you talk to are reputable, but you must protect yourself and do your due diligence to avoid hiring a bad contractor.
Remember, if you do not feel comfortable with a specific contractor you talk to, look for another one. Always trust your gut.