Ticking All the Right Boxes: How to Hire the Right Contractor

Finding the right contractor can make the difference between a home improvement project adding value to the property and creating an expensive headache for homeowners. It may be tempting to look for the lowest price tag and hire a contractor based on budget alone, but that’s never a good idea. Instead, read on to find out what to look for in a home improvement contractor to make the right choice.

Get Recommendations

Have friends, family members, or neighbors who’ve recently done similar work on their houses? Ask to see the results and inquire about their experiences with the contractors. If the experiences were positive, check out the company’s website, read some online reviews, and look for complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau.

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Make Some Calls

The best way to figure out if a contractor can complete a project as intended is to call and ask. Treat the phone call like an interview, and ask whether the contractor has experience handling similar projects, how long the company he or she works for has been in business, how much the project will cost, and how long it will take to complete the job. Ask for references from previous clients, as well.

Follow Up

Call former clients of the contractor to ask about their experiences with the contractor and, if possible, try to check out a current job site. The site should be neat and safe, and the workers should be courteous and respectful. It’s also wise to follow up on the company’s license and insurance information to make sure that the employees who will be working on the project have adequate experience and the company that hired them has both workers’ compensation and liability insurance.

Ask About Subcontractors

It’s not unusual for general contractors and even specialists to hire subcontractors. These subcontractors should also be experienced, licensed, and insured. Ask who they work with, how long they have been working with them, and do some research on the subcontractors’ reputations since they’ll likely be doing a lot of the work.

Payment Methods

Legitimate contractors will never ask for a full cash payment before starting the project. Many require a down payment to secure materials, but it’s best to set up a payment arrangement that is contingent on the completion of the work. Some companies will finance qualified clients, which can make it much easier to pay for large projects like installing a new roof or making foundation repairs.

Evaluate the Contract

Make sure to get a written contract prior to starting the project and read it carefully. The contract should contain, at a minimum, the contractor’s personal information, estimated start and completion dates, details about the payment schedule, a materials list, information about permits, and information about relevant warranties. Determine how change orders will be handled in advance, and make sure the information is contained within the contract.

The Bottom Line

Finding the right contractor takes a little extra work but it’s worth the effort. It can make the difference between a job well done and a giant headache, so it’s worth doing some homework and calling around. Don’t just go with the lowest bid. Instead, hire the right company for the job.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.