| May 04, 2015
Hiring a contractor is one of the most personal business decisions you can ever make. Not only do home renovations and updates cost a lot of money, but when you give a contractor the go-ahead to enter your home and get to work, you’re putting all your trust in them. They have access to your house, will be making structural changes to your home, and will potentially be a part of your daily life for the next few weeks (if not months).
That’s why it’s a good idea to take some time to research contractors and to hire the best one for the job. Before you start calling around, here are a few tips on how to hire a contractor who can get the job done quickly, safely, and without causing you any unnecessary disturbances.
> Ask for Referrals: The best resource for finding a contractor is hearing from people who have personally used someone in the past and can recommend their services. If you know someone who recently renovated, ask them to sit down and share their experiences. They may already know which contractor is the best in your area and who you’re better off avoiding. (If you’re new to the area and don’t know anyone yet, a general request for help on Facebook can sometimes yield positive results.)
> Check the National Association of the Remodeling Industry: Like most professional fields, contractors have organizations that oversee the licensing, certification, and quality of work. NARI is the contractor version of this. Go to the website or give them a call to be put in touch with local contractors, and be sure and vet all potential candidates through them first.
> Meet Contractors Personally: Once you have a list of recommended contractors, take the time to meet each one and go over your project. Your gut instinct means a lot in this situation. If you aren’t comfortable with someone, you may want to look elsewhere. You’ll never be happy with your project if you can’t trust the individual coming and going from your home.
> Call Resources/Check Credentials: Don’t take your contractor’s word for it—call references, check online review sites, and follow up on their licenses (not to mention check to make sure they’re insured and bonded). A contractor with a bad reputation or no reputation is usually a red flag.
> Get Estimates in Writing: Always get quotes and estimates in writing, and make sure you are both aware of what will go into the payment process. Some contractors work only with estimates (meaning your final price can be higher or lower), while others offer firm quotes. Know what kind you’re being given so you can compare accordingly.
> Ask for Itemized Quotes: Hearing a contractor bid for the first time can be overwhelming. The expenses of this kind of undertaking are large, and it’s hard to know who is being honest and who is trying to gouge you. An itemized quote, which breaks down each cost into its constituent parts, is easier to understand and can be better compared to other contractor quotes.
> Meet the Crew: Contractors rarely do the work of renovating all on their own. They may have a foreman who’s in charge of the work, subcontract the work out to others, or operate another way. Ask who will be doing the bulk of the work and how long they’ve been working together.
Hiring a contractor can take time and be exhausting, but you’ll be much happier with the result if you plan ahead. Your home—and your family—is worth it.