Finding the Right Contractor for your Home Improvement Projects
When a homeowner decides to start a home improvement project, it is critically important to find the right contractor for the job. There are consequences that come with choosing the wrong contractor that could cost you thousands of dollars to have fixed. To have the best possible experience with your project, you need to take the time to do your homework and find the contractor that is perfect for your individual needs.
Consequences of Hiring the Wrong Contractor
Before we lay out the ways to find a good contractor, it is important to understand the consequences of using a less than reputable organization to get your work done. Some contractors cut corners by not getting the proper permits and that can be an issue in two ways. If a contractor proceeds with a project without a permit, then the local building inspector can shut that project down and impose fines on you and the contractor.
An even more harmful consequence of not getting the proper permits is having the job completed and then finding out that the work was not done to code. For example, you may try to sell your home and find out that the work you had done five years previously does not meet the local building codes for safety. You would be responsible for correcting that problem and the expense could be enormous.
Another issue with choosing the wrong contractor is reliability. Good contractors schedule work with their clients and start jobs on time. If a job is going to go past the allotted schedule, then the contractor discusses that issue with the homeowner. The wrong contractor may never show up to do the job or, even worse, they may start the job and leave it unfinished.
Your First Step
Your first step in finding the right contractor is to try to get an estimate on what the job will cost before you take on bids. There are project estimation calculators online you can use to try and determine how much your project will costs based on the specifications you have created. It is important to keep in mind that your ability to accurately estimate a project is limited if you are not a professional contractor. But at least you will be armed with a number you can use to compare to the estimates you get from the bids you receive.
Get Several Quotes
It is best to line up personal meetings with each contractor you may want to work with and get written quotes from each company. It is advisable to get at least three quotes, but five quotes will give you a more accurate idea of what needs to be done. With a wider range of quotes, the contractors that are asking for higher rates will stand out more, while the reasonable estimates will group together.
Make sure you get quotes from local firms. If you live in Atlanta you don't want to get a quote from a company based in Newman as they will be too far away to respond quickly and will probably be hesitant to do follow up work or give your project priority.
Use Multiple Methods to Find Contractors to Give You Quotes
Some of the most effective methods for finding good contractors include:
- A reputable online contractor referral site
- Talking to family and friends who have recently had work done
- Discussing your options with the local home improvement store
- Contacting the Better Business Bureau to get a list of reputable contractors in your area
As you compile your list of contractors, always pay attention to the way in which each company does business and how professional they are in dealing with you.
Get the Right Basic Information
Every contractor should supply you with:
- A quote in writing with the scope of the project comprehensively explained
- A written guarantee of the work and materials
- A copy of their contractor's license
- A copy of their insurance coverage
- A list of referrals you can call on
Any contractor that does not supply these basic items should not be part of your bidding process. You should take the time to contact the references of each contractor to get an idea as to how happy past customers have been and what kind of work ethic each contractor has displayed.
The process of finding the right contractor is extremely important for every homeowner. No matter what size the project may be, it is necessary to invest the time and effort into finding the best possible contractor for the job.