How to choose a home remodeling contractor
So you’re ready to put in a new bathtub, or you finally picked out that new tile for your kitchen. If you don’t want to do the work yourself, or you don’t have the time or skills to tackle a DIY home improvement project, hiring a contractor is the way to go. But choosing a home improvement contractor can be a headache: How can you tell if someone is good at a job you don’t know how to do?
When you choose a contractor, you’re hiring a new employee for a job. You wouldn’t hire the first applicant for a job at your business, so don’t choose your home improvement contractor without narrowing down the best candidates. Examine portfolios of previous work, check licensing, listen to referrals and gather competitive bids before you make a final decision.
The first step in finding the right home improvement contractor is to create a list of 10–15 local contractors who have the right expertise. You’ll gradually narrow down this list to the top contenders and ultimately use it to select your contractor, so it’s best to include more names than you’ll need at this point.
Successful contractors will make it easy for you to get in touch with them and see examples of their work. Be cautious of home improvement contractors who lack basic information, such as a website, social media presence and reviews
Compare each contractor’s portfolio
Choose a contractor who specializes in the type of remodel you need; someone who specializes in remodeling kitchens might not be ideal for your bathroom renovation. A home improvement contractor with a creative eye can also be helpful for certain projects. For instance, if you want to lay a tile entryway with a detailed mosaic or paint a room with a faux finish, you’ll need a contractor who does that type of work well.
How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor
When choosing a contractor to head up your remodel, these simple steps can mean the difference between complete confidence and sleepless nights.
Ask for Referrals
Word of mouth-hands down, is the best way to find a qualified professional to tackle the job. Ask relatives, friends and neighbors whom they’ve had good experiences with. And ask what made it a positive experience, how the contractor handled problems and whether he or she would use the same contractor again.
Look at Credentials
With recommendations in hand, do some preliminary research, whether it’s with a phone call or a visit to the contractor’s website. Find out whether he or she holds all the required licenses from state and local municipalities, along with designations from any professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Homebuilders. Look for contractors who have invested in course work and passed rigorous tests to earn particular certifications. Be aware, however, that not all certifications are created equal. Do some homework and find out the requirements.
Narrow down the list of contenders and set up meetings. Try to keep it to three contractors, because things can get confusing beyond that. How a contractor answers questions is extremely important, but communication goes both ways. Candidates should ask plenty of questions, too
Ask to see some of the contractors’ projects. If you approve of them, request references and call contractors’ former customers to check up on them. Ask how the contractors did at executing the projects. Were they on time and on budget? Were the customers pleased with the outcome? Was there anything that could have been done differently?
How to Choose the Right Home Remodeling Contractor
Often times, the hardest part of starting a home remodel is choosing a remodeling contractor. What do you look for? Do you hire an architect or a design-build firm? How do you choose? Searching for the right contractor takes work. To make it easier for you, and to ensure your experience is as enjoyable as possible with the fewest regrets, we’ve put together a few steps for you to consider as you begin the selection process.
Know What You Want and How You Want to Live
Beyond knowing what you want your kitchen or bathroom remodel to look like or where you want to add or expand living space in your home, you should also consider having an important conversation with your remodeling contractor about how you plan to live, work and play in your home (in 5 years, 10 to 15 years or even a lifetime). Do you have plans to keep your home in the family for many generations? Do your family members have any health or physical needs that will need to be accommodated now or in the future? How does the flow in and around rooms currently function for you? What challenges are you experiencing with your home, or anticipate in the future?
Decide Which Delivery Method is Best for You
If you’re considering a major remodel, it’s important to explore the two most common delivery methods for your home remodel. Many homeowners start by hiring an architect, working with him/her to come up with a plan set, then shop around for a building contractor. With this approach, the homeowner makes decisions about almost every detail of the home remodel design and building process without any input from the contractor.
Ask for Referrals from Friends & Family
Reputable home remodeling contractors generate glowing recommendations. When you’re ready to remodel, be sure to ask your friends, family, neighbors, and other acquaintances to identify a remodeling contractor that they trust and would use again. Asking for a recommendation helps you narrow down your selection, and may also help you determine which contractors to avoid. Look for someone who has experience in your neighborhood or specific remodeling expertise (e.g., you need someone who has experience remodeling kitchens).
Review Their Reviews
Put your computer to work and take the time to read online reviews. And, look for places where reviews are hard to fake, such as Houzz, Google, Yelp and a third party customer satisfaction surveying service, like GuildQuality. What are people saying about the company and their experience with them? And better yet, how is the home remodeling contractor addressing complaints? Look for someone who is able to provide quality references and don’t be afraid to ask to see some of their completed projects in person or to speak to their past clients! This simple exercise can tell you a lot about your contractor prospects and help you hire the right one.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST LOCAL CONTRACTORS FOR YOUR HOME RENOVATION
Are you dreaming of a new kitchen, an updated bathroom, or about adding a room to your home? Or perhaps you’re in the process of building your dream house? Before you can start any of these projects, you need to find the right local contractor for the job.
Use the Right Search Engine
Before you can choose the right local contractors for your home remodeling project, know where to look for. You could go to Google and type in “local contractors.” But while Google’s algorithms will bring you a few local businesses, it will also bring you plenty of others that are far away.
Find a Specialist
Different types of work you need to have done around the home require a different type of contractor. No matter the type of work you want to do, there’s at least a few local contractors out there who would be great for the job. The trick is finding them.
Check the Reviews
Once you’ve narrowed your search, assess your options. Luckily, online reviews make this a breeze. They are just as good as asking a friend or neighbor for their opinion.
Screen Potential Contractors
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to contractors with great online reviews, it’s time to start screening. This is an important step. Websites allow you to book services online, and can make it tempting to skip this step. But resist the temptation.
Here Are The Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Contractor
Dreaming up a new kitchen or spa-worthy bathroom may be the most fun part of renovating, but choosing the right renovation contractor is the most important part. This person will rip out your walls and spend your money, so it’s really important that you like and trust them enough to embark on the remodeling journey together.
Customers are your best sources for information, so don’t be afraid to ask a potential contractor if you can speak with their past customers. Put on your reporter’s hat and ask questions like, “Were deadlines and expectations met?” and “What were your best and worst experiences?” Christina Hoffmann, content manager for HouseLogic.com, recommends checking online reviews, too. “Look at Yelp, Angie’s list, and online forums,” she says. “Make sure you’re seeing the full gamut of what people are saying.”
Don’t just ask for an overall price estimate. “One of the most important questions to ask is, ‘Can you itemize prices?'” Hoffmann says. “Then you can compare apples to apples. If prices are not itemized, you don’t know what they’re charging for.” An itemized list also lets you identify areas where you can make changes to shave costs.
Remodelers must perform quality work and maintain a good reputation to stay in business—plus, you’re paying for their relationships with other contractors or suppliers. “Ask how long they’ve been doing business locally,” Hoffmann recommends. “You want them to be established and have an established team of subcontractors.”
Most states require contractors to pass an exam and take annual education courses to maintain a current license; insurance covers employees. That way, if someone gets hurt on the job, the company’s insurance covers the medical bills. Otherwise, an injured worker could come after you, the homeowner, to foot the bill. A surety bond is liability for you in case the contractor doesn’t finish the job or goes out of business.