Hiring a home contractor can be tough. It’s not just about the size of the project, or even keeping it on-budget or on-schedule. It’s about finding someone with a great, well-deserved reputation and the experience to get the job done.
Here are our 3 top tips for finding a reputable home contractor in your area.
1. Look at Customer Reviews
Once you’ve asked your friends and family about their experiences, you might have a good idea of who to call, but that’s still not the whole picture. Some online services and websites, such as Angie’s List, will also help you find the right home contractor for your project. Once you read the reviews, you may even discover that the cheapest one isn’t the best for you, or that you should look into specialists instead of generalists.
For extra points, you can always ask contractors to review themselves by providing references and checking their licenses are current. That way you’ll know everything is above board, and you’ll get the chance to ask how the contractors deal with changes to project scope, and if they left the job site messy when they finished the work.
2. Ask for a formal estimate
No matter how many contracts you interview, you’ll want to ask for a formal estimate. That will help you determine if there are any outliers with respect to budget and timelines, and therefore potentially avoid a costly mistake.
For extra points, compare a quote from a generalist contractor and a specialist in your project. If a company that’s great at home additions over-estimates on stucco or stone and masonry work, they may well be hiring those specialists…and charging a premium.
3. Complete all necessary paperwork before starting work
From contracts to subcontractor reviews, to insurance, to permits, some home improvement projects aren't just an exercise in planning and labour, they're an exercise in managing paperwork. Do this first. Do all of this first. To stay extra safe, make sure all changes to the contract are logged in addenda and signed for.
For extra points: be smart about your payment schedule. Check your home contractor isn’t asking for too much up-front, and make sure the payment schedule is updated when additional work is included in the contract.
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