Spring and early summer are usually the times when homeowners think about remodeling projects. If you’re thinking about selling or upgrading your home or if you’ve recently purchased a new home, you may find yourself with a list of repairs you need to make. Chances are some of those repairs or upgrades will require expert skills that you just don’t have. When that happens, it’s time to hire a contractor. But how do you find the best one for the job?
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while you’re searching for a contractor who will get the job done right.
Get referrals from friends and family
The best place to start when you need to hire a contractor is with referrals from friends and family. If anyone you know has recently completed renovations on their home give them a call. Some home repairs must be done by a contractor. Find out which contractor they hired and how they felt about the process and finished product. Call your real estate agent.. we may be able to give you a list of folks we have used in the past that we know are good.
Research the contractor
Once you’ve made a list of a few potential contractors, it’s time to do some research. Find out how long they’ve been in business and whether or not they are licensed and insured. Check online sites like Houzz and Yelp for reviews from previous customers. Are most of their reviews positive? You can also contact the Better Business Bureau and the local building inspector’s office for any complaints that have been lodged against them. Check out their license status with the State Contractors Board to see if they have or currently have issues with customers. It’s also a good idea to Google them.
Interview each candidate
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, you should make calls to each potential contractor and interview them. Good questions to ask contractors include:
- How many projects like this have you completed recently?
- Will I need a permit?
- Can you supply me with a list of references?
- Do you have the proper insurance?
- Do you use subcontractors for any of the work? Who are they?
- How many other projects will you have going on at the same time?
- How long does a project like mine usually take to complete?
As you chat with the contractors, you’ll see how well you can communicate and how comfortable you feel with them.
It’s now time to get estimates for your project from each contractor. Although they will likely want to just offer a bottom line price, ask for an itemized bid so you can see exactly what they will be charging you for. This will make it easier to compare each bid. It will also help should the details or scope of the project change down the line.
When it comes to choosing the bid, keep in mind that the cheapest one is not necessarily the best. You may end up spending more money later to fix work that was not done properly the first time. Also, find out what type of payment schedule they require. Be wary of anyone who asks for the full amount up front, as they may be having financial difficulties or are worried you’ll refuse to pay once you see the work they do. The state of California has laws that cover deposits. For homes that number is 10% or less of the contract price. It is worth a few minutes to read up on state law.
Get everything in writing.
Once you’ve chosen a contractor based on the information above, you should get everything in writing before the work commences. This includes how long the work should take, the total cost, the payment schedule and how additional costs will be handled.
Have questions? Please feel free to call or e-mail me.