When you have a home improvement project you’d like completed but can’t DIY, you’ll need to hire a contractor. Because you don’t know much about how to do the work, it’s harder to choose the right person for the job. Here are some general guidelines, tips, and suggestions to help you choose the contractor who will best complete your project.
Get Referrals from Trusted Sources
To begin looking for a contractor, ask your trusted friends and family for recommendations. If they were highly satisfied with a contractor’s work, they might be a good place to start. Make sure they have experience with the contractor, not that they just know them. You should never just pick someone out of the phone book or call an ad you find online. The best contractors only get work through referrals.
Check for Licensing and Complaints
When you’ve selected a few potential contractors, check their licensing with the municipality. Make sure they are licensed, and never hire anyone who isn’t. Find out if they belong to any professional organizations like the National Association of Homebuilders, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, or the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Also contact the Better Business Bureau and find out if a contractor has had any recent or serious complaints against them.
Check for Insurance
It’s very important to hire a contractor that has insurance. Preferably they will have Workman’s Compensation and General Liability insurance. Ask for insurance policy numbers, and verify coverage with the insurance companies. You should also find out what your Homeowner’s Insurance covers related to contracting work and accidents or injuries on your property.
Ask the contractor to provide you with several references, and you should get at least three. You should call the references and ask them questions about the work the contractor did and if they were satisfied with their experience and results. In a best case scenario, you can even see some examples of the contractor’s work. Reputable contractors will have no problem providing you with references.
Ask for Bids
When you’ve narrowed down the list of contractors, you should invite them all over to give you bids on the work you want done. Make sure all aspects of the work are included, like materials, and ask about what they will be using and doing to complete the job. You should not choose the lowest price, because the lowest price will not often mean the highest quality work. If a contractor pressures you to sign a contract too quickly, you should be wary of doing business with them.
There are some other considerations to make when choosing a contractor. In general, it’s a good idea to hire someone who has been in business in the area for a long time. Don’t hire someone if you can’t discover the physical address of their business. You should also make sure that the contractor guarantees his work, and you should not pay more than one-third of the total cost up front.
Darren Hunt is a handy man, father, and expert on industrial coatings who loves to write online and give advice about how to complete home improvement projects.
Photo Credit: USACE Europe District