Few home improvement projects generate excitement, suspense, and uncertainty quite like remodeling – and for good reason. A beautifully remodeled interior can improve your quality of life and, in some cases, increase the value of your home. On the other hand, a shoddy build could mean years of dissatisfaction, not to mention thousands of wasted dollars. Remodeling and home improvement projects are investments. Who you hire makes all the difference in how well the job turns out and what your experience throughout construction will be like. It can be stressful looking for someone who is reliable and communicates well. Don’t give up and settle for the first pop-up ad that comes your way. Put simply, hiring the right home remodeler is a big deal. It’s a decision you want to get right.
With the proper planning and a knowledgeable contractor, you can be assured of a job well done at a reasonable cost. Remember that home improvement or remodeling can be a fun experience for both you and your family. You should always choose the contractor you feel most comfortable working with.
With an eye toward experience, professionalism, and expertise, let’s explore the nuts and bolts of choosing a home remodeling contractor. Finding the right remodelers probably won’t be an easy decision, and that’s okay. You should challenge yourself to identify the best talent with the greatest likelihood of success. By the time you arrive at a hiring decision, you should feel confident that the team you selected will either meet or exceed your expectations.
Here are tips to get the most out of your contractor and next home improvement project:
Have a Plan
Before you make a phone call, figure out what you want and what kind of contractor can make it happen. You don’t want to waste time looking for specialty contractors when your project calls for an architect. The more specific you can be, the better answers you’ll get out of your research. How big is your project and what is your desired time frame? Perhaps most important, what is your budget?
The first step in finding the right home improvement contractor is to create a list of 10–15 local contractors who have the right expertise. You’ll gradually narrow down this list to the top contenders and ultimately use it to select your contractor, so it’s best to include more names than you’ll need at this point.
Interview Multiple Contractors
Once you have found two or three contractors that seem capable of doing the work, you’ll want to interview them. Ask them questions such as whether or not they’ve ever taken on a project of this scale, if they feel confident in their ability to pull the necessary permits for the job, and how long they envision everything will take.
As they interview, be sure to listen to their answers for assuredness and professionalism. Since contractors will often be coming into your home, you want to choose someone that you’re comfortable with and who also seems capable of completing the work.
Confirm Licenses, Insurance, and Bonding
For most home remodelers, obtaining and maintaining state-issued contractor licenses is mandatory. If required by law, the remodelers you consider for your project should hold any and all necessary business licenses – no exceptions! They should also carry certain types of insurance.
Keep in mind that being licensed doesn’t mean a remodeler will deliver great work. In some cases, a license just indicates that a business pays its taxes and carries the minimum required insurance. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll love how your new kitchen looks.
Get everything in writing
A paper trail is key, since it protects you and your contractor. Put all the details about the project — including a start date and an end date — in a contract and have an attorney review it before you and your contractor sign off on it. As the project gets going, put any changes that come up in writing, initial it and print out an updated plan for the both of you.
Connect with your contractor
The right person for the job will be easy to talk to. Make sure you see eye to eye by hiring a contractor that understands your goals and has experience in the type of job you are looking for. Communication is key for all projects, so insist on regular contact by email, phone or text messages. Allow the work crew to manage their day-to-day work, but set up a weekly face-to-face update from the foreman.
It’s up to you to do your homework to find a skilled and ethical contractor for your home improvement project. Research each contractor thoroughly, and feel free to take your time to make the best decision for your home. After you’ve reviewed and signed the contract proposal you’ll write a deposit check. Now you’re one step closer to your dream home.