Hiring a contractor can be difficult — especially when an important home renovation in your house depends on the abilities of someone you just met. Renovations can also become costly, and wanting to ensure the job is done well is a reasonable request. When you’re in the process of hiring a contractor to work on your home, have these things in mind to find a contractor that can tackle your home renovation with professionalism and a solid skill set.
1. Ask For Referrals
Websites that offer referrals for contractors can be a great tool if you don’t know where to find someone for the job, but also be wary. A contractor can have seemingly stellar reviews, but unless you’ve seen jobs they’ve completed in the past and spoken to people who have worked with the contractor before, you shouldn’t trust everything you find online as your only source. Experienced contractors don’t need website referrals; they’ll have real contacts for you to contact who can attest to their integrity.
2. Seek Out Active Communicators
Communication will play an important role in the renovation process, so look for someone you can get along with. Problems and challenges can arise at any point of a home renovation project, and when they do, you and your contractor should be able to communicate and work through the issue together. Choose a contractor that seems able to remain calm and also keep you calm while finding a solution to any problems.
3. Look For Solid Contractor-Homeowner Contracts
There is no way around having a contract between you and your contractor; it’s part of their job description. If a contractor is not willing to write up a contract for your job or if the contract is incomplete, then it is likely unwise to proceed with the home renovation project with that contractor. All contracts should include every detail of the project:
- Start time and end time
- Cost estimates of all materials being used
- A list of all sub-trades
- An explanation of what would happen in the event of a change of order
- A payment schedule that revolves around project stages instead of dates
4. Don’t Fall For Free Quotes
When a contractor offers you a quote, they’re giving you a breakdown of costs for the project at hand. Even though it may seem like a positive thing for a home renovation contractor to offer a quote for free, it can also be a negative sign. The best contractors typically charge for quotes because they are busy with their jobs. If contractors taking the time to look at your home and discuss the project with you, it usually means that they are serious about working on your home. If you are paying for the quote, it usually indicates that you’re serious about getting the job done. One way to find contractors who are more likely to do a good job on your home renovation project is to be skeptical of those offering free quotes.
5. Look For Contractors Giving Realistic Cost Estimates
Quotes are necessary, but they probably won’t give you all of the information you’ll need in order to properly choose a contractor. Before you hire someone, you’ll need to pay for a detailed estimate. This estimate should contain every aspect of the project, including specific materials and required permits. Proper estimates are pages-long and should answer every question you have about the renovation — even ones you didn’t necessarily think of. Be cautious about proceeding with the contract if a contractor tries to give you an insufficient estimate and you can spot price discrepancies or a lot of missing information.
6. Look For Contractors Who Don’t Blatantly Overcharge
Experienced contractors are not going to ask for a deposit or upfront retainer of more than 10% for the average project. Inexperienced contractors who do charge higher fees upfront might not have the money to get the job started, which could signify a lack of projects on their calendar. Try to hire a contractor with a healthy business that seems to have a lot of work in progress.
7. Make Sure Your Contractor Can Get The Permits
Permits are expensive, but building officials can actually shut down a job if it does not have the correct permits. Permits are a necessary expense when it comes to home renovations, and better contractors are aware of the consequences of not having them — which is why they’ll always make sure to have a municipal building inspection done before starting their work on your home renovation.