Sometimes, there are just some home improvement projects that you can’t turn into a DIY. When that happens, you have to hire a home improvement contractor. And when you think about that, you probably get stressed. Unless you have a solid contractor that handles all of your home improvement projects, the process of finding someone you can trust to build exactly the project you want can be difficult. But if you want a great outcome, you do have to find the right person. That’s why we’ve put together this a step-by-step guide: to help you navigate the hiring process with the least amount of stress and worry possible. We’ve included a few tips, and a couple of things to watch out for too, so just start at Step 1, and by the end you should have the right contractor that can handle your project with ease.
- Have a Plan – You don’t want to come to a contractor empty handed. Generally, that translates to unclear instruction, which means you won’t end up with the project you were looking for. Before you even start looking for a contractor, it’s important to have a solid idea of what you want done, and how you want it to look.
- Develop a Shortlist – Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start making a list. Ask around your neighborhood and local area for contractors who specialize in your type of project. People don’t usually recommend someone they didn’t like, or someone they thought did a shoddy job, so you’re likely to get some good suggestions just through word of mouth. From there, do a little searching yourself, looking for popular contractors in the area who have gotten good reviews on social media.
- Phone Interviews – Now it’s time to call those contractors on your shortlist. Ask if they take on projects of your size, if they’re willing to give you a list of previous clients, who their subcontractors and suppliers are, how many other projects they’ll be doing at the same time, and if they’re willing to provide some kind of financial reference. These will give you a better feel for the credibility of those on your list. This is also really useful information you can use as you get farther down in the process of choosing the right contractor, so make sure you write it down.
- Face-to-Face – From the phone interview, you should’ve gotten a better idea of who is suited to your project, and who is not. At this point, you can pick your top three or four choices, and have them come check out the site (not at the same time, please). When they come over, it’s important that you like them first of all, because they’re about to be in your home for hours on end if you do end up hiring them. At this point, you should explain in detail what you’re looking for exactly, and the contractors should be able to give you some initial estimates.
- Investigate – At this point you should know who you like, and who you don’t. But don’t let a great first impression fool you, either. You should check your top few choices’ references thoroughly. If they provided a list of their suppliers, go visit some of them, and ask them some questions about your potential contractor’s work. Talk to previous clients and ask if they’ll let you come out and see the work in person. Most importantly, ask if you can visit the job site of one of their current clients. A lot of times, it’s not the contractor you’ll have to deal with all of the time, it’s the workers. So you need to know that the workers are courteous to the home and homeowners, and complete their work properly and efficiently.
- Check licenses, complaints, and litigation history – Another big portion of the investigation step, you have to know that your contractor is who they say they are. Make sure they have all of the necessary licenses, and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they don’t have any disputes with clients on file.
- Choose the right contractor for the right project – As the last step of your investigation phase, make sure you’re picking the right contractor for your job, not simply the overall best contractor. Just because they did a great job on your friend’s bathroom remodel does not mean they’ll do an equally great job installing a deck. Most contractors have certain jobs they do more often than others, so make sure you pay attention to that, and choose a contractor who is familiar with your type of project and has lots of great examples of that work.
- Plan for some sort of wait – It’s also not unusual to have to wait for your top choice contractor to start your project. Though you probably want to get started as soon as possible, you’d rather have a contractor that’s too busy to start right away because their customers love their work over a contractor who doesn’t have any work because they’re not good.
- Get Bids – Now that you’ve made it through the investigation phase, ask for bids from your top choices. It’s a good idea to ask for an itemized bid. This will give you an idea of how much they’re charging for what, and where you can cut things out if you need to. It’s also important to ask if their bid is an estimate or a fixed price. If it’s an estimate, that usually means there might be more expenses that pop up later. Ask if you can get a fixed price bid from them. This might mean they’ll need to take out a wall or get into whatever they’re not sure about, but it’s a tactic that will save you loads of money in the long run.
- Get it in Writing – Whatever you do, absolutely get your bid and contract in writing. Make sure you review it completely before signing, and make sure everything that’s on the contract makes sense to you. You can always have the contractor explains things on the contract to you, if you’re not sure what they are. As a final point, do not sign with any contractor who wants you to get your own permit. In the event that you get your own building permit, and they do a bad job that violates or is not up to code, you’ll be stuck with all of the fees and fines. Only hire contractors who agree to obtain their own permits.
Hiring a home improvement contractor doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you have a clear idea, and you know what questions to ask, you’ll be able to pick the right contractor for your project without an issue.
If you’re thinking about starting your next home improvement project, call the experts at True Value Home Pro! We’re a full service home improvement contractor, which means we’ll tackle any project, big or small. From interior renovations to exterior additions, we’ve got the tools and the experience to build you exactly what you’re looking for. Give us a call at 616-414-7578, or request your free estimate online today!