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How to choose a contractor

Finding the right person to do the job will ensure a successful project

Couple looking at paint swatches next to wall
Posted on Sep 29, 2022, 10:30:00 AM GMT

Once you are a homeowner, there will always be home improvements you will want to make, whether it’s a small task like painting or a larger project like a kitchen renovation. Some jobs you can take on yourself, but if you need to hire a professional, you’ll need to figure out how to find the right person for the job. Check out some tips to ensure you choose the best contractor for your project needs and budget.

Crowd source

One effective way to find a contractor is to ask around. Talk to friends, family or local acquaintances to see if they could provide recommendations. Places like Facebook community pages allow you to post the question and you may even find someone in your neighborhood who could show you the work they had done. A contractor who worked locally would also be familiar with your specific town requirements and permit procedures.

Meet and compare

While it’s good to get recommendations, it’s also important to meet contractors in person and get multiple bids to compare. Since this person will be in your house, a face-to-face meeting will help you determine if you 100% trust and feel comfortable with them since they will be around your home and family for weeks or months during your project. In addition, don’t necessarily go with the lowest price contractor, but one that you connect with and provides the best solution for the price.

Ask questions

When you meet with a potential contractor, ask questions to ensure they are reputable and the right fit for your project. Here are some suggestions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have references you can contact or pictures to share of recent work?
  • What is the permit process?
  • What is the project timeline?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • What are the payment options and schedule?
  • Do you work on other projects at the same time?

You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints filed.

Get a contract

Once you decide on a contractor, make sure every detail is outlined in a contract, including a start date and projected completion date, materials used that the contractor will purchase, what you are responsible for buying and an outline of all costs. There should also be a change-order clause and any warranty info. When you make a payment, ensure that the contractor notes on the contract the date he has received your payment. You should also discuss expectations like start and stop times or if you need the project completed by a specific date. The more detail in the contract the better, so everything is clear and you’re legally covered should anything go wrong.

Find out who will do the work

If you hire a general contractor, they will manage the whole project including contracting with other vendors such as electricians or plumbers as needed. You can also manage the project yourself and may save money by coordinating the subcontractors, but it could be time consuming depending on the size of the remodel. A general contractor can handle it all and save you time to focus on selecting the materials you may need and having everything ready for the contractor. If your general contractor has subcontractors handling some of the work, make sure you’re aware of the name of the company and when they are expected to arrive, so you’re not surprised by the knock on the door.

Get ready

While the contractor will do most of the work, you will have to get everything ready for them. This includes packing up the space, taking down wall hangings, or making space in the garage or driveway for supplies. If you have to pick out materials such as tile, appliances, cabinets or flooring, know that it may take a few weeks to order, so you should start that process once you choose a contractor to give yourself plenty of lead time before it’s needed. Also check if the contractor has relationships with suppliers as you might get a discount.

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