Thinking about some home renovations this summer? Hiring a contractor to help with those major projects is probably a good idea. But hiring the right contractor may not be as simple as you think. Here are a few things to keep in mind whenever you are considering hiring someone to work on your home:
- Interview possible contractors — Asking for a bid on your project is not the same as an interview. Too often homeowners will request an estimate or bid and fail to take the vetting process any further. Sure get the bid, but then ask a couple of key questions like do they usually take projects of this size? do they employ subcontractors? if so, how are they selected? how many other projects does the contractor currently have going on? can the contractor provide references including past customers?
- Check the background — It’s not enough simply to get references from the contractor, you have to actually call them! Also check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to verify the contractor’s rating and feedback found there. In Illinois, the Attorney General’s office is responsible for investigating fraud claims against home contractors. If you’re hiring a roofer, you can verify his license as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. You should NEVER have an unlicenced person working on your home.
- Don’t Let Price Be the Deciding Factor — Tom Silva, from This Old House, encourages homeowners to “throw out the lowball bid.” There’s no reason to overpay for the work, but you should cautious when a contractor offers a bid well below others. According to Silva, the most important factor in hiring the right contractor is communication. Projects rarely go exactly as planned and paying a little more for someone you can communicate well with will be well worth it.
- Put It All Down in Writing — It pays to be a stickler for details here. In addition to start date and completion date, you’ll want to make sure you have the contract also includes: specific products and materials to be used; subcontractors listed; a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases; proof of liability and workers comp insurance; and a scheduled of payments. Be detail focused before signing the contract is one of the best ways to prevent any misunderstanding down the road.
- Get a Recommendation — Contractors live and die by their reputations. Any contractor worth his weight will do everything possible to make sure every customer is satisfied when the job is complete. So asking around and getting a few recommendations can’t hurt. When my clients ask me to recommend a contractor, I send them to my friends at Vision Ventures, Inc. They are a locally owned operation capable of handling anything from new home construction, to remodeling, to insurance claim repair. I am happy to recommend them as one of my premiere vendor partners and I am confident you’ll be excited about their work.
Home projects can be both thrilling and intimidating. Hiring the right contractor can take a lot of the stress out of both big and small renovations. Next time you’re in the need to hire a professional, keep these handy tips in mind.