A home remodeling project can be an exciting yet frightening time. We’ve all heard complete horror stories about contractors who didn’t finish the job, robbed the homeowner of thousands of dollars or projects that ended up costing way more than the contractor estimated.
Hiring a remodeling contractor doesn’t have to be a horror story if you plan before you start your search and carefully research and interview contractors before settling on the one who will complete your job.
Know What You Want
Before researching contractors, know what you want done to your home. You don’t want the contractor to influence your choices based on their own set of ideas. Research the material choices that would be best for your space, and know the costs. An informed homeowner will have an easier time spotting a contractor who might try to inflate the price.
Recommendations from Friends and Family
The best recommendations will come from people you trust. If you have family or friends who have had remodeling done recently, ask them who they used and whether that person was reliable. On the other hand, do not pick a contractor for your home remodel who did tiling for your sister. You want someone experienced with your type of remodel.
References and Online Reviews
It can be tough to find honest online reviews, but you can look online to get an idea of the type of reviews being left. Don’t let that be your only research. Check with the Better Business Bureau too. You can also check court records to see if the contractor or company has been sued.
Once you have a list of contractors to interview, call them on the phone to get a feel for their manner. While you are not interviewing for a best friend, you want a contractor who has time for customers, has a pleasant manner and is willing to go over your concerns. This is a contractor that you’ll have to talk with a lot while he or she is remodeling your home.
Narrow down the list of contractors to three or four for an in-home interview. Have questions and a list of materials prepared so when the contractor gives you an estimate, you can compare it to other estimates you’ll receive. If a contractor is too busy to start your work immediately, that may be a good sign. A great contractor will be booked and busy.
Who Will Complete the Work
A general contractor might have employees who will be covered under their business insurance. A contractor might use subcontractors for some of the work or all of it. It’s important that you find out who the contractor uses and whether they have a good work history. You want to investigate those subcontractors too.
After Hiring the Contractor
Contract and Payment Schedule
The contract between you and the contractor should spell out the details like materials used, who provides the materials, estimate on pricing and payment schedule. Everything should be documented in the contract. If there are changes to be made on either side, make sure the contract reflects those changes including any new costs.
Contractors require a down payment before they’ll start work on the home. Often, the down payment will pay for starting materials. Be wary of a contractor who asks for half of the entire budget up front. You don’t want to be paying for the finishes on the contractor’s last project. In some states, there’s a legal limit to the amount the contractor can ask for, but a safe amount is between 10 and 25 percent of the entire job.
Less than reputable companies might try to persuade you that you don’t need permits. Almost all home remodeling projects will need permits and inspections. When it’s time to sell your home, work done without a permit can cause a headache. The contractor’s job is to obtain any permits for work about to be done. You’ll regret not obtaining the proper permits. It’s also a way to judge the quality of the work being done.
Verify the Contractor’s Insurance Coverage
Before work begins, understand which insurance will cover any accidents on the job. The contractor should have their own insurance coverage that will cover workman’s compensation, property damage and personal liability. Be sure that anything your contractor’s insurance doesn’t cover is handled by your home policy. Call your insurance provider to talk about the coverage you have.
Contractors often have more than one job going on at the same time. The contract should state the progress payments and amounts while the job is in the process of being completed. Don’t release the final payment until the entire job is complete. Often, contractors will move on to the next project before the final, finishing details are complete. Make sure you hold that final payment until all the details are finished.
Before hiring a contractor for your remodel, make sure you’ve done your initial research into the job as well as the cost of materials so you can be an informed homeowner. Research and interview potential candidates before hiring a contractor and always sign a detailed contract before the work starts. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if there’s ever a problem with the contractor’s work. A home remodeling project doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you’re careful and informed about the process.