If you’re getting ready for a big home remodel, nothing can seem more daunting than looking for the right contractor. There are so many companies out there, we don’t seem to know where to start. Truthfully, there is no one best contractor. It depends on the type of project and you. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the five best tips to help you find the right contractor for you and your home remodel project.
Do Your Homework
This may sound oversimplistic, but this is where most people make a mistake. Doing your homework means having a clear plan as to the project, your cost expectations, the type of person you want to work with, and the time frame you want everything done. Do your research and write out your plan before you even start Googling for contractors.
Once you have a clear plan of what you want, start looking for contractors that have experience with your type of project. Visit their websites. Any professional contractor will show samples of their work and have testimonials on their website. Read Google and Facebook reviews with caution. They are a great source of information, even the negative reviews. They may often be subjective, but how the contractor handles them can show you a lot about how they work.
Finally, look at the contractor’s accreditation and professional groups they belong to. Feel free to contact these organizations and ask about their history of complaints.
You should aim to have at least three contractors to interview.
Interview Multiple Contractors
As a part of your research, you’ve probably contacted multiple contractors on the phone. Now it’s time to interview the two or three top candidates in person, and the best place to conduct the interviews is in your home. There are multiple reasons for this, the most obvious being that this is where they will be working. It gives them a chance to inspect the project and give you a more accurate estimate of time, materials, and labor. A personal interview also gives you the opportunity to gauge their professionalism, knowledge, and simply whether you feel comfortable with them in your home.
Be prepared for the interviews. Have a list of questions and not just about the project. Ask them about prior projects, especially ones that are like yours in size and complexity. Ask them about who they work with and their experience. You want to take the opportunity to gauge their knowledge, experience, and the qualifications of their network.
At the end of each interview, ask the contractor for a quote. If you aren’t sure about the person, let them know you’ll get back to them. Preparing a quote can be time-consuming, and you don’t want to waste the person’s time if you don’t want to work with them.
Any serious contractor will provide you with a quote with detailed information on materials, number of labor hours, and an estimate of when the project will be completed. When going through the estimate, remember that the lowest price is not always the best choice. You want to choose the contractor that you feel comfortable has the best knowledge and experience for your project. This may mean you will pay a bit more up front, but you will have less hassle in the long run.
If you haven’t done your homework on how much a project like yours should cost, now is the time to do it. If you feel the price is too high, contact the contractor and try and negotiate a lower price.
One word of caution on negotiating. Most contractors are honest and not trying to take you to the bank. Chances are, they’ve already tried to see where they can save you some money, but not at the cost of the quality of materials or the profit that pays their own bills. They often work with a very narrow margin of profit. However, they want your business, and, more importantly they want you to be satisfied and spread the word. Word of mouth is their best advertising. Ask them about the price, and they will be honest and see what they can do.
Put It in Writing
Once you’ve picked the contractor you feel most comfortable with, you’ll want a legally binding contract for the project. This should include the terms of payment as well as the process of changing anything to the original project terms. This contract should be signed by you and the contractor.
The chances of something going wrong during the remodel may seem minimal but having a signed contract will give you the protection you need in case of any legal recourse. A true professional contractor will understand that a signed contract is for his own protection as well, so this should be standard practice for him.
Be Flexible (to a Point)
Home remodeling is filled with uncertainties. Sometimes, even the most experienced contractors are surprised at what they find once they’ve opened the walls. This and other unforeseeable setbacks can result in changes to the contract, and unfortunately, this often means it will cost more and take longer.
As a part of your plan, you should have allowed for unforeseen costs and time delays. However, that doesn’t mean you need to constantly be saying yes to each change the contractor suggests. If the contractor you’ve hired keeps putting your project aside for other things or keeps raising the price, don’t be afraid to find someone else who will put your best interests first.
Finding the right contractor for your home remodel is an important decision. It’s probably the most important one for the whole project. It’s also a hard decision, but it’s not impossible. We hope these tips will make that decision just a little bit easier. If you’d like to talk to one of your home remodel experts, contact Broussard Home Services for an appointment.