Deciding to remodel your home can be a big undertaking. Each decision you make requires careful thought and consideration, none more so than hiring a contractor. With dozens (or more!) of options in your region, how do you decide which contractor to hire? It’s tempting to go with the first option you find with decent reviews, but there are many important steps to take when vetting potential contractors.
Here are 5 things to prioritize when hiring a contractor:
Verify your contractor is licensed and insured
First things first, make sure whichever contractor you hire has their licenses and insurance sorted. This might seem like an obvious step, but it’s alarmingly common for contractors to let these things lapse and should not be overlooked. The last thing you want is to wind up with a messy or unfinished project and few options for making things right. Any reputable professional contractor should have at the bare minimum a current contractor’s license, business license, general liability insurance, and workers compensation.
Check references and reviews
Don’t skip the important step of seeking references and reviews. Ask potential contractors for their last three clients with similar projects, instead of asking for general references. This will give you a solid idea of their current work product and shed light on those recent working relationships. When speaking with past clients, ask specific questions. Examples could include: How long did the job take? Were the costs were out of budget (if so, why)? Were they happy with the results? And of course, would they work with that contractor again?
Get an estimate in-person
Regardless of how experienced or knowledgable a contractor may be, it is impossible to provide an accurate estimate for a job without seeing the conditions in-person. Even the smallest jobs require an in-person visit to assess the job site and give an accurate quote for services provided. Committing to a job with a ballpark estimate will increase your likelihood of running into surprise expenses as the job progresses – something no client wants.
Don’t hire the contractor with the lowest bid
When hiring a contractor, be wary of anyone who provides a bid that is substantially lower than the rest. Take the time to thoroughly review the estimate, going over each item and be sure everything is accounted for. Be up front in asking where the price difference comes in – is it quality of materials? The workmanship? Everyone likes to save money, but when it comes to remodeling your home, you truly get what you pay for.
Value experience as much as personality
You’ll be spending a lot of time working with your contractor, so it is essential that you are able to communicate. Having a contractor that is approachable, respectable, listens to your concerns, and remains calm under pressure can be helpful. And while these personality traits are extremely important, it’s arguably even more important that your contractor has a proven track record of quality, experience, and credentials. You’ll be enjoying your home long after your contractor is gone, so prioritize their workmanship over how much you like them as a person.