One of the most satisfying — and most stressful — things a homeowner can take on is a large renovation project. The difference between a job that makes you glad and one that gives you nothing but headaches is finding the right contractor.
All renovations come with some problems. That’s the nature of the work. But with a good, reputable professional handling it, the result will be worth it.
Here’s how to find a local contractor for your project:
Begin your search through friends and online
Before you can choose a contractor, you first have to find one. Even better, find several. Friends and family are good sources for referrals, especially since you can ask them candid questions.
Contractor Connection also helps connect you with contractors. While referrals are great, we give you the assurance that every contractor meets the most important points: licensing, insurance and qualifications for the job. Plus you get a 3-year workmanship warranty. That’s a lot of legwork off your plate.
Do your renovation homework
If your project is a larger one, you probably need a general contractor. Mid-to-large renovation projects require a lot of different people working on several different aspects of the job.
Instead of finding and hiring those workers on your own, the general contractor handles it for you. He or she will also pull the necessary permits, create the work schedule, and Consumer Reports says contractors will probably get discounts on materials.
Talk with prospective contractors at length
With your list of contractors in hand, it’s time to talk with each one personally. The experts at This Old House explain that you can learn a lot through a telephone interview.
Explain your project and ask whether they’re comfortable with the scope of work, and find out how many other projects they’ll have going at the same time. Meet in person, too. Sometimes personalities don’t gel, and that’s something you’ll learn when meeting face to face.
Ask about references
Most contractors are on the up-and-up, but you’ll still want to ask certain questions. Request a list of references, and check on licensing and insurance, too. Credentials are only as good as your follow-up, so make the necessary calls.
Confirm credentials, and talk with former clients, too. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, such as whether the contractor performed quality work, if they left a clean job site and whether the project finished on time. Check with the Better Business Bureau, too.
Get a detailed estimate
One of the most important elements of finding a contractor is getting estimates and evaluating bids. An estimate tells you what each contractor proposes, and a bid is a more solid confirmation of those costs. Although every bid should cover an identical scope of work, materials and fixtures, not all bids are created equal.
Some contractors might bid lower because they own certain equipment that other contractors need to rent. Some might bid higher because they don’t, but they might also have a better overall reputation.
Agree on a contract
The job contract covers everything. For what’s not included, there should be a clause that outlines those details. For example, all projects have some unknowns and surprises. Consumer Reports suggests that a typical clause might state the contractor assumes certain details about the job, such as the presence of wiring, and that adjustments might be required if an unforeseen issue emerges.
The contract also covers payments and payment schedules. Expect to make a downpayment of no more than 10 percent, and then make other payments throughout the stages of work. If the contractor asks for more than 10 percent down, find out why. It might be reasonable if expensive materials with a long lead time have to be ordered. If there’s no justification, you might want to talk with a different contractor.
A home renovation is a major commitment, both in time and money. Before you allow workers into your home, be sure that really know what to expect from them.
Finding a contractor isn’t difficult, but finding the right one can be. With Contractor Connection, a lot of the worry and confusion are eliminated beforehand. Just enter your ZIP code to request a free estimate from professionals in your area.