Home renovations can be very time-consuming and expensive. While planning and prep work can certainly cut down the costs, finding the right contractor goes a long way to staying on time and on budget. To help, here are six tips for finding a good contractor:
o interview potential contractors, you first need to find them. Start by asking your friends, family and neighbors for referrals. This step allows you to pre-vet any potential firms, as your personal connection probably also did their due diligence in trying to find a reputable contractor.
Look up the contractor or company’s name in your local Better Business Bureau site. If listed, examine the rating, what other customers say and, if there are complaints, how those complaints were handled.
Search the internet using the contractor’s name or company name. Quite surprisingly, contractors with a history of problems will pop up in your browser as soon as you start a search.
A word of caution, however; be wary of sites that offer ranks or reviews. While some are legitimate, many are either hacked and abused or utilize a business model where companies that pay for premium services often get better profiles, higher rankings and appear better in the site’s reviews.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential contractors to two or three, it’s time to conduct interviews. Start with a phone interview. The goal is to assess how professional, courteous and responsive the contractor is when dealing with people over the phone. If this meets your standards, ask for an in-person interview. This is the step that will typically confirm who you want to work on your home renovation. Ask questions about previous jobs; ask this person to give insight, a ballpark budget and timeline for your renovation job.
Once this person leaves, they will prepare an official budget and schedule. This process can often take hours out of the contractor’s work day, so only ask for this document if you are really serious about hiring the person.
Since the contractor will need a bit of time to prepare a detailed budget and schedule, you can spend that time doing the final review of this contractor by checking their referrals.
Ask to see their portfolio and ask them for past-client references. The contractor should have both on hand and be more than happy to share their successes with you.