Your home is one of your biggest assets, so when it comes to hiring a contractor for everything from roofing to foundation work, to interior painting and remodeling, it’s important to hire reputable companies. Start your search by asking friends, family, colleagues, and trusted local home improvement retailers. You might also check with the Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, or community pages on social media too, as they can be good sources regarding who to or not to hire.
Good contractors should carry liability insurance, as well as the appropriate local and state licensing where applicable. References and testimonials from former customers are always a plus, as well as photos of previous work the contractor’s done. It’s well worth the extra research time initially before you commit to having any work done. It’ll save time, money, and headaches in the long run.
Good communication between you, the homeowner, and the contractor is crucial, not just in the initial stages, but throughout the process. Both parties must be on the same page regarding what work will be done, time frame, deposit and payment, etc. This contractor and their employees will be spending time in and around your home, so make sure too, that you hire a firm that you feel comfortable with.
One cardinal rule to be aware of - good contractors of any kind are often in high demand. They may be booked out for a while, but are generally worth the wait. So start your search well in advance of when you’d like the work finished, and be patient. Don’t be tempted to skimp on your investment in your home and hire the cheap contractor who can be there tomorrow. It’s worth the wait, trust me.
Look for contractors who have experience with the type of work you want done. Those individuals you inquire of, as mentioned above, can help with this. If your friends or coworkers were happy with the contractor’s work, most likely these homeowners have an idea of the contractor’s experience level and work ethics and habits. The Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce can offer insight here as well. Even if the contractor isn’t a member of either organization, if there are any major complaints about the contractor there’s a good chance it’s registered with one or both organizations.
As you begin the process of finding a reputable contractor, compile a description and list of the work you want done. Naturally you don’t need to know everything that might need to be accomplished, this is why you’re hiring a contractor after all, but note the details that are important to you.
For example, if you want custom built in bookshelves around a fireplace, consider what you’ll use the shelves for. Will you place books and knickknacks on the shelves? If so, you may want the shelves to be adjustable. Will the television be mounted over the fireplace beside the shelf unit? This may factor into how the shelves are placed, to allow access for wires, etc.
Consider and compile as many details as you can, then when you do meet with the contractor, they can help you brainstorm further as necessary and get a scope of the job. The more applicable details you can provide, the better the contractor will be able to meet and work around your expectations. Be sure and provide each contractor the same details, too.
Be considerate of any contractor’s time, and don’t waste it if you aren’t sure yet what you want to do. Likewise, it’s a waste of your time too, if you aren’t prepared with the information about the work you’re interested in getting done.
Be Mindful of Estimates
A good rule of thumb is to get at least two to three estimates for large projects, especially. Check the details, and make sure those estimates are specific for the work you want completed. Note any details about pre-work and jobsite preparations, such as removing old carpeting, patching drywall, etc. Note also details regarding clean up, waste disposal, warranties, job materials, payment, and so on.
In addition, review each estimate for all the details. Do not assume each bid is the same. A cheaper estimate may not include the same materials and labor or procedures as the higher estimates. If an estimate seems low and too good to be true, it probably is. “You get what you pay for” applies here, more than most homeowners realize.
If there’s a big difference in estimates, such as one is much lower than another, review the details and ask the contractor to confirm them with you. One contractor, for example, might not be including job waste disposal, such as taking and disposing of the old siding that’s being replaced. But the other contractor with the higher estimate does include waste removal. Make sure that you are accurately comparing bids, no matter the size of the job.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s better to make inquiries now than to have regrets halfway into or after the job. Again, do your homework. It really is worth the time and effort.
Always Choose Quality Materials
While discussing work to be done with a potential contractor and reviewing their estimates, be sure to ask about and note the materials for each aspect of the job. While you don’t need to choose top of the line products and materials, avoid using the cheapest ones. Whether flooring, paint, lumber, plumbing fixtures, and other supplies, invest in the best materials that you can. Better quality materials will hold up better with regular use and will last longer, giving you more value for every dollar spent.
Be sure to tell the contractor that you’re interested in longevity and durability. Most good contractors already use these types of materials, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But it’s always a good idea to check first and make good choices. Finalize any materials with the contractor before you pay a deposit and any work begins.
A Final Thought
This is your home, and as such, it’s most likely a long-term asset. Choosing good contractors and materials is one of the best investments you can make. In the long run, you won’t be sorry for making these wise choices.
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