Planning to remodel your kitchen? Or maybe you want to get a new deck installed?
Whatever your need, finding a good contractor for the job can be intimidating – especially if it’s your first time doing a home renovation.
No need to stress! Below we cover our top tips for finding a contractor:
How to Find a Contractor
Before you reach out to any contractors, sit down with your significant other (or whoever else will be involved in the decision-making process) and figure out a rough budget, timeframe, and other important project details.
If you want to build an addition to your home, for example, dive down into the specifics of the job. Is it a small addition to an existing room? Or do you intend to build a full-fledged addition with bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces?
While some of your project details may change over time, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re hoping to accomplish before hiring a contractor. Depending on the project, it may be helpful to hire an interior designer to get a clear scope of work and detailed drawings.
Recommendations From Family, Friends and Neighbors
Finding a good contractor through word-of-mouth referrals from a reliable source is a great way to start. Begin by asking relatives, friends, or neighbors who have used a contractor recently for honest opinions about their work.
If you know people in the real estate or construction industry, you can ask for their thoughts as well.
Consider a Local Company
Look for a company with an established business history in your community. Your local hardware store may be able to provide you with trusted local contractors.
Use an Online Platform
Online contractor-matching services like HomeAdvisor and Angi can be a great way to source contractors for projects big and small. Contractor information, such as criminal background checks, license verification, client evaluations, and pictures, is frequently available through matching services.
Ultimately, you should be looking for a contractor that you’re comfortable with and can trust to be detail-oriented, hardworking, and get the job done according to your needs and specifications.
References and Qualifications
After you find a few contractors who could be a good fit for your project, it’s time to dig into references, qualifications, licenses, and more.
To start, ask for a list of references that you can contact to evaluate the contractor’s past performance. Former customers can be an excellent source of information and a great way to gather honest opinions about their work.
It’s also a good idea to ask to see pictures of similar projects – like a kitchen or bathroom remodel. Pay special attention to the seams of surfaces, such as where walls meet or where the ceiling joins the wall.
Equally important is checking that the contractor has the correct qualifications to do the work they’re being hired to do. For this, you’ll need to brush up on your local regulations as each state has its own set of contractor license requirements, rules, and more. Your local government may offer an online site or office number to confirm contractor licensing, google "contractor licensing in [your city]" to learn more.
Although some municipalities don’t require you to use a licensed contractor for small-scale projects, larger projects nearly always need the knowledge and expertise of a licensed professional with years of experience.
This is especially important for specialty contractors, such as those that do electrical work, plumbing, and heating.
Remember: while it may cost less to hire an unlicensed contractor, the financial risk is almost never worth the upfront savings.
You have very little recourse if something goes wrong, like if an employee is harmed while working on your property, your property is damaged, or their work is incomplete or defective.
Licensed contractors, on the other hand, have liability and worker's compensation insurance for their crews, which can protect you in the event of an injury on the job.
Here are a few more tips for finding the right contractor:
- Google them:Once you have a list of a few contractors, Google their personal and company names to see if there are any negative reviews or complaints. You can also check BBB, Yelp, and other similar sites to learn more about their reputation.
- Get multiple quotes: While your goal when hiring a contractor shouldn’t be to find the cheapest option, it’s a good idea to get multiple quotes before making a decision. This is particularly true for first-time homeowners or if you don’t have any experience with home renovations.
- Get a contract in writing: Contractors should always have a written contract that dictates the total cost of the project, the start and completion date, expectations, and more.
- Expect to make a down payment: Prepare to pay at least 10% and as much as 25% of the total amount upfront. This payment acknowledges your commitment and provides funding for the contractor to purchase construction materials first. Any prepayment of more than 25% is a red sign.
And that's it! Finding a contractor for your home renovation project doesn't have to be a daunting task. It all comes down to proper preparation.