Tackling a remodeling project of any kind can be intimidating, and one of the most challenging parts is often hiring the right contractor. A contractor needs to be experienced, skilled, easy to work with and reliable. Contractors who are going to be working in your home also need to be properly insured and safe.
Accidents among construction workers are unfortunately all-too-common, and if that accident occurs in your home, it can be a serious issue.
The following are some tips to help you hire a contractor who is skilled and reliable, but also safe.
Ask for References
If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to finding a contractor, a good place to start is by getting references from people you trust. This might include friends and family or coworkers. When you’re starting with a pool of people who’ve been referred to you, it can give you a sense of comfort.
If you’ve seen work being done in your neighborhood, ask your neighbors who they worked with.
If you can’t find any referrals from people you know personally, people who work at home improvement and hardware stores might be able to point you in the right direction.
Look for Someone Who Specializes In Your Project
A contractor may try to sell themselves as a jack of all trades, but that might not be the case. You need to research contractors to ensure they have experience in your particular project because not all projects are the same.
Just because a contractor is good at tile work, for example, doesn’t mean they’ll be good at refinishing hardwood floors or making structural changes.
If you’re doing a renovation that requires you to meet code specifications, your contractor should have experience working with these requirements as well.
Ask to see pictures and speak to people who have hired the contractor to do work similar to what you’re looking for.
You really need to know what you want before you start looking for estimates as well. This way, you can make sure all the potential candidates are giving you estimates on the same scope of work, and the use of products that are similar in quality.
Interview At Least Three Contractors
Don’t just find one contractor and get stuck on them being the best fit. You should plan to interview and get estimates from a minimum of three contractors. Ask them questions in addition to getting their written bids.
As was mentioned, make sure you ask for bids that are consistent so you can ensure you’re comparing apples to apples.
What’s good about interviewing contractors is that you might learn something along the way, and it can give you a chance to negotiate on prices.
Even though negotiating can help you keep costs down, the cheapest bid is often not the best way to go.
You want a balance between cost and quality of work, and you may have to pay more to get peace of mind.
Ask for Proof of Insurance
There are so many things that can happen when a contractor is working in your home, and you need to protect yourself.
When you’re interviewing contractors, ask about their insurance. Your homeowners’ insurance may offer some level of coverage but for the most part, major injuries aren’t covered very thoroughly. They usually have pretty low limits.
Your contractor should show you proof of insurance that covers bodily injury and property damage. Also, their coverage should include accidents when they’re using their own equipment, and you should not provide your contractor with any equipment.
If they do get hurt on the job and they’re using your equipment, they could claim that’s the reason they were injured.
Along with proof of insurance, some contractors will have other credentials. As an example, they may be part of the National Association of Home Builders. Ask if they have credentials or are part of any professional organizations.
Finally, you want to hire someone that you feel like you get along with. Go with your gut and think about personality fit, but also make sure you get your entire project contract in writing.
You want your contract to include time frames, the total cost of the project, and plans for how payments will be made. The contract should include the names of any subcontractors who will be part of the project, and your contractor’s license number. Always keep up with all payments and receipts throughout your project too.