So, you’ve decided to remodel your home. Now you need to find a contractor who will get the job done in the time frame promised, and at or near the estimated cost. Be wary when looking at home improvement contractors, or else you can find yourself in a construction nightmare that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. When it comes a hiring a contractor, doing some investigative work beforehand will save you a lot of hassle down the road.
Regardless of whether you are planning a basement remodel, a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel or want some room additions in an expansive home remodel, it is always a good first step to contact your local builders association for a list of contractors who are members as this will help you avoid the cowboy builders and rogue traders. Check with your state’s regulatory or licensing board once you have your list of contractors. You want to make sure your potential contractor is licensed and find out if he has any upheld complaints against his work. You might also want to check with the Better Business Bureau. Once you are armed your research, request bids from at least 3 contractors. Don’t necessarily assume the cheapest quote is the best either and if its way lower than the other two builders quotes then assume something is wrong and he either doesn’t know what he is doing or he has missed an expensive part of the project.
Once you have it narrowed down to about three residential contractors, there is some information you need to get. Find out how long they have been in business. Make sure a prospective contractor is insured, including liability and workman’s compensation. If the contractor subcontracts, then find out if they have subcontractors that they work with regularly. Find out who supplies their building materials. Contact the subcontractors and suppliers and ask if they have a good working relationship with the contractor. Get references from three homeowners who have had projects done that are similar to yours. Contact them and make sure that they are satisfied with the work that was done, if the cost was at or near the contractor’s estimate, and if it was completed in the specified time frame. Once you find a contractor you have confidence in, you are ready to sign the contract.
You should never hire a residential contractor without a written building contract. The building contract should be very specific, with regard to exactly what work is to be done, approximate time frame for completion, estimated cost of the project, and what materials will be used, including brand names. Trying to find a contractor who is reliable can be time consuming, yet careful investigation can save you a lot of money and heartache.