Hiring a contractor is one of the most important decisions you can make when you decide to have work done on your home. A quality contractor is the difference between beautiful, well-done work and delays, shoddy work, or even legal issues. If you make the right choice the first time, it can save you money and heartache down the road.
It is essential that you do not choose your contractor on price alone. The lowest price may not be the best deal, and the highest price does not guarantee quality. Instead, look for a contractor who makes you comfortable and has reasonable prices.
- Trust your instincts: Your contractor will be working in your home and around your family. Choose somebody who you can trust. You should meet your contractor in person and make sure that you are comfortable talking to him or her.
- Make sure that the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured in your area: A license and insurance indicates that your contractor is credible and knowledgeable. To get a license, a contractor has to pass an exam that proves their understanding of building codes and processes. Insurance is important because it prevents you from being liable if a worker is injured on the job or neighboring property is damaged.
- Ask for references: You should ask for references to past customers to find out how your contractor has done on past projects. You should look for accreditations as well. Better Business Bureau accreditation indicates that you are working with a credible business.
- Ask to see ongoing projects: Seeing ongoing projects allows you to see the quality of the work being done. It can also spark design ideas for your own projects. It also important to see the work environment of your contractor so you can have an idea what it will be like when they are working in your home.
- Make sure your contractor has a physical location: This helps you ensure that you have chosen an established contractor, not a fly by night operation. It shows that they are part of the community and stand by their work.
- Establish working guidelines: Do you want your contractor to only work at certain times or going in certain locations? It is important to establish working parameters before you start a project. It has the potential to impact the timeline or cost of the project. It is also important to know your responsibilities as the homeowner. Do you need to move furniture out of a room? Where will your dog or cat be kept? Figuring out these issues up front will help the project go smoothly.
- Get a contract in writing: Make sure your contract gives a detailed description of the work being done, the cost, and the approximate start and finish dates. Having a detailed contract makes sure that you and the contractor have the same expectations for the project.
If you follow these guidelines to choose a contractor, you are well on your way to finishing your home improvement project in timely, quality manner.