How to Find the Right Contractor for Home Construction and Renovation
If you’ve got a bit of money squirreled away and want to invest it back into your house, you’re going to need a bit of professional assistance. While there may be a long list of repairs and tweaks around the house that could be solved with a DIY approach, major renovation or construction projects should not be included. In order to make sure you get the best return on your investment you need the work done right the first time, with high end craftsmanship and the ability to avoid pitfalls that you might not see with your untrained eye. But hiring the wrong contractor can doom your projects just as quickly as if you got in over your head and tried to do it yourself. There’s a process to choosing correctly, and it takes preparation and careful thinking. Here are some steps for how to find the right contractor for home construction and renovation.
Before you ever reach out to contractors, take the time to thoroughly plan out your project. Jot down the details, and even draw out what you are thinking. In order to get a proper quote on the work, and to test each contractor’s experience and ability you need to be able to describe the project completely. You’ll also insure that the bids you receive cover the same amount of work, and aren’t just simple rough estimates.
Most good contractors get the bulk of their business through word of mouth, and referrals will be your best ally in this process. Chances are you’ve got friends, neighbors or nearby family members who have done work on their homes in the past. See who they used, and if they had a great experience you should add those contractors to your list of candidates. Reach out to the chamber of commerce and other related professional organizations as well. The best case scenario will present itself if the same contractor is recommended through several different avenues.
Remember that when you approach these contractors, they need your business more than you need them. So create an interview process. This could be in person or over the phone, but you’ll want them to pitch their services to you in detail. This will give you the opportunity to uncover how knowledgeable they are, and to see if they are a fit for you. Part of the requirement is a calm, steady demeanor. You’ll have to work with this person closely for potentially months to come, and an outsized ego won’t be enjoyable. You can even ask each candidate to outline how they would approach the process, to see which one feels like the best plan for fulfilling your vision.
Regardless of how each candidate presents himself, take the time to check out their background. Hopefully these contractors have worked on other projects in the area, and you can physically go and look them over. You should also ask to speak to previous clients. Any contractor worth his salt should have a long list of satisfied customers they are happy to share with you. Double check that they have the proper certifications and licenses as well. You’ll want their work insured, and that will only be the case if all of their paperwork is on the up and up.
Even if you completely gel with one particular contractor, always get their quote in writing. Have each candidate look over your home separately, and request that they detail the length of the job, the schedule of how they will tackle it and what the complete cost will be. You’ll also want to sign a written contract that locks them into certain commitments and protects you from poor craftsmanship. If the job requires construction equipment rentals that you will have to cover, the contract should detail this. If there is any hazy language, or if the paperwork provides the contractor with easy loopholes, you’ll know you should look elsewhere.