How To Choose A Contractor for Your First Home Renovation

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Home remodeling projects are meant to add value, improve functionality, make the home energy efficient, and boost the aesthetic appeal. However, you can only achieve these goals if you choose a qualified, experienced, and reputable contractor. If you skip the contractor evaluation process, you risk getting the job poorly done. Though it is possible to sue a contractor, the process is tedious and will cost you time and money. Pursuing a case is expensive considering good lawyers charge $500 an hour or even more. Therefore, to avoid all these, take time and do some homework before hiring. Consider the list below when doing your evaluation.

Ask For Recommendations

The easiest way to find a contractor for your first remodeling project is to ask for recommendations from your family or friends who have done remodel projects before. You can also ask your neighbors if you have seen some work going on in their houses.

Search Online

In addition to recommendations, you can find contractors in your area by doing an online search. Use search phrases such as ‘remodeling contractor in City X’ or ‘Kitchen remodeling contractor in City A’. From your online search and recommendations, make a list of at least ten contractors and proceed to evaluate each.

Check Past Projects

The next step is to evaluate the past projects for contractors you highlighted in step one and two. First, check to see whether they can handle your project. This is because most contractors handle specific projects only. For instance, there are contractors who do bathroom remodels or kitchen remodels only. Such contractors will not be suitable for you if you are looking to remodel your garage. Next, check the photo and video galleries. Most sites will display these on their website. For instance, this site displays before and after photos to showcase their kitchen remodeling expertise.

Check License, Registration, and Insurance

Licensing and registration requirements for contractors vary from state to state. Therefore, check the licensing and registration guidelines in your state before hiring a contractor. It will be illegal to hire an unlicensed remodeling contractor in a state where licensing for contractors is mandatory. You may end up paying huge fines for this. If the contractor has certifications and memberships from different organizations, that is a good sign. It is an indication that the company is serious about their job and that it adheres to strict regulations.

Hiring a contractor without insurance is risky. For one, you will be held responsible if the contractor and his workers are injured while on your property. Two, you will not be covered for damage to your property and stolen items. Therefore, review the licensing or registration and insurance paperwork before hiring your contractor.  

Reputation

Someone may have all the paperwork but still do a bad job. This is why you should evaluate their reputation thoroughly. You can evaluate a contractor’s reputation in three key ways. One, go online and check reviews. To get reviews, simply types in the name of the company on search engines, accompanied by terms such as reviews, complaints, and customer feedback. You can also find reviews by checking the company’s social media pages and business directories such as Yelp. Two, check the company’s rating on BBB. Finally, ask to speak directly to some of the contractor’s past clients.

Schedule A One On One Interaction

Don’t hire a contractor before you talk to them directly. Through a one on one interaction, you can gauge their attitude, professionalism, and expertise among many other factors. Pick the contractors who are easy to talk to and the ones who answer questions comprehensively. Before you go for the meeting, make a list of questions that you will ask the contractor. You can ask questions on their expertise, resource they have for the project, ideas for your project and project duration, among others.

Get And Compare Quotes

Ask all the contractors who pass on all the points above for quotations. Compare and choose the most affordable one. If your final list has two contractors A and B, and A charges a lower fee than B but B’s portfolio looks more promising, it is best to go with B. Don’t be afraid to pay a higher amount for better quality work.

Get A Contract

Before the job begins, ensure you have a written contract. A home remodeling contract should include a description of the work to be done, duration, payment amount and terms, termination clause, provision for changes, permits and other legal requirements, penalties, materials required, contractor’s license and insurance details, guarantees and warranties, workers and suppliers payment terms and dispute resolution among many others. Read the document carefully and ensure that it is signed before the project begins.

Permits And Other Legal Requirements

Usually, it is the contractor who takes the responsibility of applying for permits and fulfilling any other legal requirements necessary for the project. As a homeowner, you should follow-up with the contractor to ensure that they made the applications and permits were issued. If the project begins without permits and the authorities find out, you will have to stop the project and maybe pay a fine. Also, the areas you have remodeled can be inspected and if they are not up to standard, you may be required to demolish them. In cases where you don’t get caught by the authorities, your mistake can soon come back to haunt you when you are selling your home. This is because informed buyers and real estate agents will skip houses that were remodeled without a permit.

By taking the time to choose the right contractor, you will avoid poor work, destruction to your property, delayed projects, fines, and charges. Once the project is complete, talk to your insurance company so that they can make adjustments to your policy. If you fail to do this, you will have no basis for making a claim for damage to the remodeled areas. Also, note that there are some projects that may lower your home insurance. Therefore, talk to your agent immediately to avoid paying more when you should be paying less.  

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