The difference between a successful remodel that gets you everything you wanted on time and on or under budget and a complete disaster that’s incomplete and over budget by the deadline is the quality of the contractor(s) you hire. Unless you’re just planning some minor home improvement projects like repainting or installing baseboard heater covers, you’re going to need to hire outside help. Putting thought into who you hire cannot be stressed enough as it’s arguably the most important decision you’ll make that will determine the quality of the outcome. By doing the following five things before hiring, you’ll greatly improve the odds of success for your remodel.
Get several estimates
A written estimate costs absolutely nothing since prospective contractors all want a chance at your business so there’s no reason to only get one or two. Get at least three or four or even more. The more you have the better you’ll be able to determine what’s a fair price and what seems too high or suspiciously low. Armed with several estimates, you also have more power in negotiating prices when you can tell the contractor you prefer to hire than another is bidding a lower amount. The lowest bid may end up being the best one but don’t assume that it is especially when it’s considerably lower than the next closest one.
Have a list of questions for each prospective contractor
There are a few things you should always ask prospective contractors. For instance, you should always ask for references so you can hear what their actual clients thought of their work. You should ask about insurance and what licenses or certifications they have. Ask about the process of pulling required permits. There may be other questions that are specific to your project and circumstances that you want to ask.
Get a written contract and make sure you understand it
A written contract gives you legal protection if they don’t come through on their end of the bargain. If you settle with a handshake and the contractor’s word, you have nothing should the contractor do inadequate work. Make sure to read the contract carefully before signing and ask questions about anything in the contract you don’t understand. Make sure the contract spells out important details like a list of materials needed, an estimated timeframe, and of course the estimated cost and how and when it will be paid for.
Watch out for red flags
Be wary of contractors that don’t have company markings on their clothing or vehicles. Watch out for contractors who want cash up front. Finally, don’t hire a contractor that walks through your home nodding and agreeing with everything you want done. An honest will make suggestions, raise objections, and ask lots of questions to better understand what you’re looking for.
Trust your instincts
Finally, there are certain intangible things that can set off alarm bells in your mind even if you can’t put your finger on it. You should have a good connection with your contractor and communication should come naturally. If something just doesn’t seem right, hire someone else.