Choosing the right contractor can be a struggle; there are so many different facets to choosing a contractor to work in your home that it can be overwhelming. The biggest issue is trust: will the contractor build something that you love? Are you comfortable with their company taking over your house during the renovation? Will they stick to the budget that they agree to? These are only some of the concerns that homeowners have going in to a remodeling project. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down the playing field to only those contractors that are truly worth your consideration:
- Obtain a copy of license and insurance
- Check references from their last three projects.
This gives you an idea of how the company is doing currently, versus what their reputation may have been. Any contractor has three references they can provide: you want to know what sort of company it is today. The economy has changed the way a lot of remodelers do business, and in many cases it involves cutting back on staff which could impact the quality of their service.
- Tour a project.
- Ask prodding questions.
Don’t be afraid to dig underneath the surface- a client who says “He was great!” but does not elaborate doesn’t actually tell you anything about their experience. You want to know how well he stuck to the schedule and budget, whether he kept the job site clean, how he was around kids or pets, whether or not he parked in your neighbor’s driveway. Ask questions like “How many change orders were there?”
- Does he guarantee his schedule?
A reliable contractor who is well-organized can predict what will happen on projects and accurately estimate the timeline of the project. A money-backed guarantee on a project schedule is tough to find, but you should ask for this when hiring a contractor. Don’t buy into the “Every project is different and no one can predict what is going to happen…” It’s simply not true.
- Are they NARI(National Association of the Remodeling Industry) members?
- Pay an annual membership fee
- Agree to abide by a Code of Ethics
- Attend regular continuing education classes
- Keep up-to-date on remodeling legislature
- Look for service-related Awards
i.e. Remodeling Big 50, Angie’s List Super Service, etc.
- Search for and read reviews and ratings listed on Google-
this will tell you a lot about previous clients think, and they can be a good indicator of quality and trust. Great services to check out are: GuildQuality (a third party surveying tool), Angie’s List, Houzz, Yelp, and Google, among others.
A website can tell you a lot about a contractor: here you can often learn about the types of projects he has done, what people are saying about him, and other useful information to your decision-making process. For most contractors, this is a place for them to showcase their best work. If you don’t like the projects you see, ask the contractor to provide more. If you still don’t like them, keep looking!