If you’re planning a small update to your home’s design or a major remodel, the contractor you choose is incredibly important.
Photo by Zohair Mirza on Unsplash
You have to consider so many factors, including not only the quality of work but also safety. The following are six considerations and things to keep in mind when choosing a professional to work with.
If you’re hiring someone for a renovation or remodeling project, there’s a high-risk level. A contractor should have insurance that protects them and you if someone’s hurt on the job or any issues come up. At a minimum, a remodeling professional should have general liability insurance for contractors.
A general liability policy will cover third-party risks. For example, if you, as the homeowner, are hurt, then this would provide protection for you.
Your contractor should also have other coverage like workers’ comp and commercial auto insurance, but these affect you less so as a client than they do the contractor’s actual business.
Some remodeling contractors will also get professional liability insurance, which will cover legal costs related to work performed on your renovation. For example, maybe your contractor doesn’t meet a deadline, and you file a legal claim against them.
Don’t be nervous to ask potential contractors about their insurance coverage and the particular types they carry.
2. Ask Around
If you don’t even know where to start your search for a quality contractor for your home project, start by asking around. Maybe you have friends, family, or coworkers who have had a good experience with a contractor, which can be helpful as you create a list of possibilities.
If not, you can also ask local suppliers or real estate agents.
When you start to actually call the contractors on your list, take time to get in touch with at least 10. You can then, from there, narrow it down to, let’s say, four or six contractors that you’d like to meet in person.
When you’re making initial contact, think about how the contractor answers the phone and whether they seem interested and engaged with what you’re saying. Are they directly answering your questions? Do they seem like they’re excited about your project?
Before you meet someone in person, you should ask if they’re licensed and whether they’ve completed projects similar to yours. In order to figure this part out, you yourself need to be clear on the scope and expectations of your project before contacting anyone.
A good contractor will have a list of references they’re willing to provide to you, and you’ll also want to learn more about their expected timeline. These might all lead to factors that could help you exclude contractors, so you aren’t wasting your time or theirs.
3. Meet In Person
Try to meet your shortlist of contractors in person if at all possible. This is when you’re going to have the chance to ask even more in-depth questions and figure out how comfortable you feel with the candidates before you hire them to work on your home.
You can learn more about how long they’ve been in business and what their quote is. A contractor should be able to give you their reasoning for their price, and they should talk to you about their payment schedules.
You might also ask if they can show you a current project they’re doing. If they have something they’re working on, and you can see it, you can check out how clean and organized the site looks and talk to the homeowner about their experience so far.
4. Talking About Payments
At this point, you’re likely to have an idea of who you’d like to work with, and you have to start to discuss price and payment in more detail. Remember, if someone gives you an extremely low bid, this could be a sign they’re a scammer, they’re going to raise the price later on, or their quality of work isn’t high. Bids that are much lower than the others you receive are a red flag.
However, if you have a bid that you think seems reasonable, you generally have two basic options for payment to a remodeling contractor.
There’s cost plus a flat fee. In this agreement, a contractor charges an agreed-upon amount for coordination and management plus the actual cost of the project. The benefit of this is flexibility, while the downside is that it’s harder to estimate final costs.
The other general option is a bid basis, where a contractor will create a budget for your whole project and then set a payment schedule.
If someone is asking you to pay in cash, it may be a scam, and you should avoid doing it.
5. The Contract
You need a detailed contract when you’re hiring someone. You can protect them and yourself.
Some of the things that should be included in a contract are:
- Project start and end date
- Payment plans and financing
- Detailed schedule for stages of the project
- List of required materials, how much will be budgeted for them, and who will choose them
- Guarantee that permits will be filed by the contractor
- Change order provisions
- Names of other workers who will be on the site and when they’ll start working
- Warranty information
- A broom clause, which means a contractor is responsible for all clean-up
A contract should also have a termination clause. This lays out what factors could lead to ending the working relationship and the consequences of doing so for both the contractor and the homeowner.
6. Have a Plan for Dealing with Conflicts
Finally, early on, when you’re deciding on a contractor, you want to talk with them about how they typically deal with conflicts in a project. You also want to choose someone that you feel comfortable communicating with openly, and you should trust your gut instinct.
Above was mentioned the termination clause your contract should include. As part of this, go into detail about how you’re going to handle unexpected issues or conflicts and differences that are likely to come up during the project.