6 tips for hiring a home improvements contractor
So, you’ve decided that you want your home remodeled or renovated and you’ve also made the decision to call on a professional with expertise in the field to get the job done. The next question then is how do you go about hiring a contractor for your home improvement scheme?
There is much to consider when it comes to making that decision. Reputation, price, and availability will all come into the equation. Everyone has heard that well-worn phrase ‘You get what you paid for’ and while it is particularly true when it comes to building works, with proper planning and research you can be assured of a job well done at a reasonable cost.
Here are six tips for hiring a home improvements contractor.
- Connect with your contractor
The most important consideration when hiring a home contractor is often one of the most overlooked – having a personal connection. While you might fret about how much it is costing or the timeframe for getting the work done, you need to be employing somebody who you like, get along with and ultimately trust if you are going to have faith in them to carry out the job successfully.
The right person for the job will be easy to talk, understanding of your aims and invested in what you want to do. If you are undertaking a serious renovation, then the contractor could be spending up to eight hours a day, five days a week in your home. They’ll practically be one of the family by the end of it! That’s why you have to feel comfortable with who you are working with.
- Go for the right price rather than the cheapest
At the quotes stage, ask your contractor for their recommendations on what should take place. They might suggest a genuine way in which you can knock a little bit off the price, or they might see corners that can be cut here, there and everywhere which should set alarm bells ringing about the quality of their work.
Request a written description of the tools and materials needed to complete the job. From this, you’ll be able to see whether the contractor is looking to use sub-par materials which may not be suitable for long-term sustainability.
More often than not, the most suitable bid will be the one priced in the middle.
- Discuss availability
The trouble with getting a good contractor is that because they’re good, they’re likely to be working on several other projects or have futures ones in the pipeline. That makes their availability a key consideration, especially if you need to get your renovation done in a specific timeframe.
You might want it completed at a set time of year, say summer when the weather is better and work therefore should be quicker. Or you might have no timeframe at all and are happy for the contractor to work on it every Saturday for the next six months, so long as the job gets done.
You may have to wait a little longer to secure who you feel is the best contractor for the job, at which point you need to ask yourself: are they worth the wait? Remember that the renovation should be something that you’re living with for the next decade, and three months longer before it gets underway might not be the end of the world.
- Carry out research into your contractor’s reputation and credentials
You don’t want to be letting somebody who is seriously underqualified make major changes to your home, which is why you need to do your research into both their reputation and credentials. There are plenty of certifications that those working in the construction industry can earn and these are an excellent guide to the level of competence and training that your contractor has achieved.
They might also be part of a certain trade organization who would only accept them if they work to the highest standards possible. These are often reflected in titles and abbreviations, such as being a certified graduate remodeler (CGR), certified aging specialist (CAPS) local Building Industry Association membership (BIA) or being a part of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The internet can also be a powerful tool in seeking out information on the reputation of contractors. 74 percent of local businesses now have Google reviews and while you should always take the stuff you read on the internet with a pinch of salt, these can be handy in helping you discover whether the builders you want to work with have are reputable.
- Agree on a payment method
Once you’ve settled on a contractor, you should agree on a payment method with them. Some contractors will want an advance; others will accept full payment at the end. Some may even offer you the option of paying for the work with set payments over several months in a similar arrangement to how a loan works, which could be of interest to those who might be struggling with such a significant outlay in one go.
There will also be contractors who request cash payment for part or all of the work. Access to significant amounts of cash via a bank account is one way to secure the money needed, but you can also withdraw cash from a credit account as well – follow this link if you need to know more about cash from a credit card.
- Draw up a contract
To protect yourself legally, you must draw up a home improvements contract to be signed by both you and the contractor. That way, there can be no dispute down the line about who owes what or whether the work has been carried out correctly.
Your contract should include detailed time frames, the agreed price, payment arrangements, project description, the names of the parties involved, how additional costs will be handled if necessary and your contractor’s license numbers.
Keep track of all this important information in a safe place. You should know exactly where your contract, payment documents, and receipts are kept as well as contact information for everybody working on the project just in case you need it.