If you are a homeowner, no doubt you have encountered many instances when you need to repair or improve something in your house. If you have handyman-type skills, you might have the ability to do many of these projects yourself. However, for larger projects that are more complex, you will need to hire a professional to do the job. Here are guidelines in how to choose the right contractor.
The best way to find a good contractor is by getting recommendations from your relatives, friends and neighbors. There is nothing better than honest testimonials from real people that you know. You can see the finished projects first-hand to get an idea of the contractor’s skills. In addition, you can get an idea of what type of personality you will have to deal with.
Schedule an appointment with each contractor to come to your home to look at what is involved, and ask for a written estimate. In discussing your project with each one, be sure that you remain consistent in your requirements. For instance, if you told one contractor that you want oak for your hardwood floors, do not tell another contractor that you want bamboo. Stay consistent with the type of material and design that you want to use. Ask if he can break down the estimate between materials and labor. Material cost should not vary that much among contractors. It is the labor cost where you will see the main difference.
Price should be a big factor in your decision-making process, but it should not be the only factor. Quality of work is very important. Flexibility is also something to consider. You want someone who is easy to work with and who is responsive to your questions. Beware of contractors who think that they know everything and do not listen to your input. Also, think about the recommendations from your sources. If one person’s comes highly recommended, it may be worth the extra cost to have the job done perfectly.
When you have chosen a contractor, ask for a contract with all of the details documented clearly. This should include a description of what the project is, the size of the project, the materials that will be used, the time-frame, and the cost broken down by materials and labor. Other details may need to be included as well, such as tear down and disposal of materials. A sketch or blueprint should be attached to it if there is one. There should be nothing in there that can be interpreted in other ways. The more details included, the better.
If your project is long-term, such as the addition of a room, you should meet with the contractor regularly to talk about the progress of the work and any issues that come up. You should be involved in every major step of the project, but without micro-managing the project. Your contractor needs to keep the communication lines open to avoid any misunderstandings. It is up to you to survey the progress and to question anything that does not look right to you.
Finding a reliable contractor to work on a home renovation can take some effort on your part. However, the time is well-worth it to get the results that you want.