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.
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!