Anyone who has read some of the contractor horror stories that are posted on various news sites and blogs understands how important it is to choose the right contractor for a home remodeling job. However, knowing the importance of the choice is only half the battle. The other half of the battle is knowing how to make the choice. The following guidelines will help you make an informed decision on the best contractor for you and your home.
Before the Search
You should take several preliminary measures before you begin your search for a contractor. Even though you are not the one who will be doing the work, planning is not to be taken lightly. You need to plan exactly what you want remodeled, and you should have a general idea of what you want it to look like when the job is finished. Your plans do not have to be perfect. You just need something to get you started that can be shared with the contractor. You should also have a budget in mind for the job.
You may want to consider hiring an architect or designer before talking to a contractor. Most major remodeling jobs require a professional designer. Make sure you are working with a designer experienced in remodeling projects. The designer should also be able to work within your budget and provide a rough estimate of the cost. When you have the blueprints, you can start to think about hiring a contractor.
Some contractors do both design and construction. Using a combination contractor is often more convenient than hiring two separate companies. Advantages of hiring a contractor who also does remodeling design include saving time, getting a more accurate estimate of the project cost, and reducing the risk of miscommunication between the designer and the contractor.
Many simple remodeling jobs do not require a designer at all. If you are just getting a new roof, having new windows installed, or constructing a deck, then a designer is not usually required. For simple jobs, most contractors will have several basic designs available in their repertoire that will meet your needs.
Locate Several Contractors
The prevailing wisdom is that anyone who requires a contractor for their remodeling project should interview at least three qualified candidates. The best resources for locating contractors are your friends and family. It is hard to go wrong with a personal recommendation, but you will still want to follow through with the rest of these guidelines because whoever made the recommendation may have just been lucky.
If your friends and family do not have any recommendations for you, then look through some local advertisements. Always try to stay local. Contractors working within their communities have the most to lose should they not complete the job to your satisfaction. The news of one bad job can spread like wildfire and cost the contractor thousands of dollars in lost opportunities.
After you have chosen at least three contractors to interview, schedule a time to meet with each of them separately. Discuss the details of your project with them, and ask for an estimate of the time and cost. You are not necessarily looking for the contractor who can do the job in least amount of time for the least amount of money. In fact, an offer that is substantially lower than the others may indicate that the contractor will be cutting corners or using substandard materials.
Verify License Information
Most states require a contractor to display his or her license number on all advertisements, business cards, written estimates and contracts. However, a license number is not necessarily valid just because it is displayed. You should always verify a contractor’s license. This can be done through your state’s licensing board or commerce department.