A Guide to Choosing the Right Contractor

Contractor Blog 4.6.16

For anyone planning a remodeling project or expansion, you likely know that hiring the right contractor is crucial, but how do you find one? Here are a few tips to help you find the right contractor for your project.

Check with Friends, Relatives and Neighbors

Friends who have had work completed may know of someone and they can give you great tips on if the person was reliable, friendly, finished their projects in a timely manner, were under budget, etc.

Check the Reviews

The Better Business Bureau recommends referring to their site to check the background of the person, their license and any negative feedback from past performance. You can also see the rating for them and/or their business as the rating goes from A+ to F being the lowest.

Interview Candidates Over the Phone

Another area that can help is to pick out a few top candidates and set up a time to actually interview them. Ask questions like:

  • What size projects do they usually work on?
  • Have they worked on a project like yours? Do they have proof? Examples?
  • Do they have financial references – like from their bank? Suppliers?
  • Can you call their previous customers? Can you see their previous work?
  • How many other jobs are they working on?
  • How many subcontractors are in their team? How many other staff?
  • Ask about their current licensing?
  • Do they have any violations or complaints on their record you should know about?

When you interview a contractor, their answers can tell a lot and if they sound rushed or impatient, they may not be the contractor for you. It may be an indication that they are trying to hide something or they may be difficult to work with. If you encounter this, you may have to decide if you want to skip this person and move onto the next candidate.

Contractor Blog 4.6.16

Meet in Person

By meeting in person this can help you see whether or not the contractor will be someone that you will get along with. Because you have to communicate during the length of a project, it helps to be able to have someone who is personable, honest and can put your mind at ease. While you’re still going to do a background check, check with the Consumer Protection Agency and BBB, the meeting can help you narrow down your selection of candidates.

Do Your Homework

The next step is to go online to the sites we’ve just mentioned and check out the information that you find on the contractors you are considering hiring. You also want to check under their business name. You can also check with your state’s licensing agency to confirm they haven’t had businesses under other aliases and check public records information, as well. When you call past customers, ask if the contractor was reliable, if they were safe at all times, neat, careful with their belongings and property and other details they may divulge. Also ask if they would honestly rehire the person again.

Start Getting Bids

Another area that can help once your list is narrowed down is to keep track of the bids and estimated time lines your potential contractors give you. Your potential contractor should have a blueprint and time frame in mind. They may also let you know what your project will cost and you can ask for a breakdown on parts, labor, materials, profit margin, etc. As the supplies will account for about forty percent of the overall costs, the remainder should be allocated to labor and profit.

Get Everything in Writing

Before any work is started, make sure you set up a payment schedule that will help the contractor adhere to the time frame they’ve given you. If they say that they’ll “throw this in” and “add that”, always get it in writing when it’s first mentioned that way you have proof if you have to refer back to it. Let them review the contract, too. Also ensure it has included a section for the completion date that’s been projected, as well as contractor lien releases to protect you if they don’t pay their bills. If you’re unsure about the wording, you can always check with an attorney.

Keep in mind that there may be changes and additions to your agreement if you want to add something to your project. Just be sure to include everything and have your contractor sign off on dates, new projected time frames and totals. That way you’ve covered all your bases and you can rest assured that legally you have everything in place to start working with your new contractor!


7 thoughts on “A Guide to Choosing the Right Contractor

  1. I agree that meeting a contractor in person is important. I would imagine that getting to know something about a remodel contractor before you hire them would be really important. This would probably mean that you would need to meet a few contractors before you hire them.

  2. You mentioned in your writing that you should do homework on the different materials involved with your remodeling project, and make sure that the contractor is using high quality materials. We are specifically looking for great cabinets, as they are one of the most important aspects of a great kitchen. I’ll definitely do some research, and learn which cabinets are the best. Thanks for the advice.

  3. I didn’t realize that when hiring a contractor it was a good idea to ask for written estimates. It makes sense that remembering this would be important since it could protect you against extra charges. I can see how making sure you don’t rush into things can help you avoid difficult situations and make sure you get the services you pay for.

  4. I agree that when you ar looking for a contractor you need to get things in writing. I would imagine that once you find someone you need to find someone who will give you a contract up front. My husband and I are looking for someone to help us renovate our basement so we’ll have to get a contract in writing when we do.

  5. I like your idea on how you would need to meet a contractor in person first. It would seem that if you are going to hire someone to work on your home you would need to meet them first. My husband and I are looking for someone to help build our home so we’ll have to meet with them in person first.

  6. I want to make sure that I get my home made right. It makes sense that the best way to accomplish that would be to hire professionals! I’ll make sure that I find someone who is qualified for this.

  7. My husband and I are finally ready to start building our dream house, and we need help finding the right contractor to help us out. It’s good to know that when it comes to choosing the right one for us we need to do our homework. That way we will know if this is a company that is both experienced and reliable with this kind of work.

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