Finding and hiring a contractor to work on your house can be intimidating and stressful. How do you know that who you choose will show up, do a quality job, and charge a fair price? To ensure you choose a trustworthy contractor who will do a great job, follow these 6 steps.
6 smart steps for hiring a contractor:
Look at websites
The internet is a great place to start to gather information and learn who your options are for a particular job. By searching the job you want done (i.e. tile work, roof repair, etc) and the city you live in, you’ll see which companies do that type of work. Many contractor websites include photos of previous projects they’ve completed so you can see for yourself the quality of work they do. Just note that contractors are only going to highlight their best work so it’s important not to stop here.
Ask your friends, family, and colleagues if they have any contractors that they’ve used and would recommend. Your local hardware store is knowledgeable about contractors in your area and their reputations. They also see what kinds of materials they purchase and will know if they use quality products. You can even call up your Realtor, who is likely to have recommendations on contractors they or their clients have used.
Once you find a few contractors that you’re interested in hiring, check out online reviews. You can do this (and should do this) on various review platforms such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook, Houzz, and Google+. Look for companies that have a lot of reviews (this shows experience) with a majority of positive reviews. Also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the contractors you’re interested in have a history of disputes.
Now it’s time to start interviewing contractors. At first, you may just want to start with phone interviews to see if your size and type of project would be a good fit for them, an estimated date when they could start on your job, if they’ll be working on other projects at the same time as yours, and if they work with subcontractors. You can also ask if they’ll provide a list of previous clients and financial references. And don’t forget to ask to see proof of liability insurance!
Once you’ve narrowed your search a little further based on your research and interviews, have three or four contractors come to your house to bid on the job. Ask the contractors to break down their bids based on labor, material and supplies, and overhead. This will help you compare bids easier. Be sure to also ask about their payment schedule. If a contractor wants half or all the money up front, that’s a red flag! Expect about 10% at the contract signing and then the remaining balance spread out over the duration of the project with the final payment being made upon completion.
Make your decision
Now that you’ve done all your research, interviewed several contractors, and received bids it’s time to make your decision. Don’t just go with the lowest bid—instead choose the contractor who quoted a fair price, has good recommendations and reviews, and that you trust to do a quality job in a timely fashion. Once you’ve made your decision, draw up a contract with the projected start and completion dates, projected costs, payment schedule, and materials to be used.
Have you hired a contractor before? What did you learn from that experience? Please share your advice in the comments below.
Here are related resources you may find helpful:
Licensed vs Unlicensed Contractors by MC2 Home Inspections
5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor by Houselogic
10 Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Builder by Michael Roberts Custom Homes