How To Find A Reliable Contractor

How To Find A Reliable Contractor

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A prerequisite to a well-designed interior is a contractor who knows exactly what they are doing, and finding the one who will best suit your needs is a tough task.

Renovating one’s home is a demanding job. It’s a huge project to undertake, consuming both time and money.  The most crucial part of this massive undertaking for most homeowners is seldom the actual work itself, however.

Horror stories about contractors disappearing without finishing the job and leaving you with crumbling walls, peeling paint, and a kitchen that looks like it’s been wrecked by a hurricane are altogether far too common. You need a reputable, reliable contractor who is guaranteed to get the job done and give you your money’s worth. Here are some tips to aid you in your search for the ideal person –

Have a Clear Description of the Project(s)

Don’t just meet contractors sharing rough ideas about what you want – do your homework first. Document your plan. List everything you want fixed and changed and outline at least an idea of the materials, paint colors, fixtures, etc.

If you are an artistic person you’ll be brimming with ideas; if not, simply enlist the help of an aesthetically-inclined friend! By preparing carefully in this manner and being specific about your requirements, you can get accurate estimates from different contractors.

Sure the contractor can and should offer up ideas but if you are comparing cost and schedules, make sure that each contractor is providing an estimate of the same project. Ask that they provide any additional ideas in a separate document or line items so that you can easily compare.

Set a Budget

Along with being specific, you have to be particular about the sum you are willing to spend. The contractors you interview can then help you see how to accommodate your ideas in your budget. In the contract, always make room for a margin to cover unanticipated (and mostly unpleasant) surprises. Generally budget for an overage of 10-15%.

Seach for Contractors Online

There are several websites with contractor databases that you can search. We have chosen four representative websites that you can use either to start your search or to get more information on contractors you have found through the other methods listed above. All of the sites require that you register to be able to search for contractors. Angie’s List, however, is the only site of the four listed that charges to use its services. The charge is an annual fee and varies based on the area you are searching. Bid Clerk works a little differently from the other three sites, acting more like a marketplace where you as the owner can post a job for contractors to bid on.                   

Ask Your Community, Family, and Colleagues for Referrals

Ask your friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers if they have good experience with contractors in the area. If your community has a Home Owner’s Association (HOA), ask if they know of other homeowners that have had similar work completed. Also, ask other, trusted contractors – you may have a trusted electrician that has worked on jobs with roofers or general builders that they highly recommend.

Interview Multiple Contractors, Minimum 3

Don’t sign the first contractor you meet and don’t necessarily trust the referral you received on face value. Talk to many contractors, compare prices and working methods and weigh each one’s pros and cons carefully. An informed, well-researched decision generally leads to far fewer regrets.

Check References

One of the best ways to judge the suitability of a contractor is hearing what the customers he/she served before you have to say. Do not skip this step. Ask the contractor for at least three references that will let you see the finished product first hand.

Watch Out for These Warning Signs

There are some things which you need to look out for to avoid making a deal with a dodgy and disreputable contractor. A shady contractor may –

  • Advertise his/her business door-to-door
  • Ask you to pay the entire sum or even 50% upfront
  • Insist on cash transactions
  • Use leftover materials
  • Offer discounts in return for getting them more customers

As long as you steer clear of those who would be more of a hindrance than a help to your project and take the advice we’ve offered, you are bound to find  the perfect contractor to get you your dream home!

Look for next week’s article to provide a detailed list of interview questions for each contractor. 

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