Choosing the Right Contractor
When selecting a contractor for your next Home Improvement project, there are many things you should keep in mind before making your decision.
You’re finally ready to get that brand new kitchen or to build that bedroom addition.
This is something that you have been thinking about and planning for a long time. There are usually many contractors to choose from, all with varying degrees of ability and history. The first step is to find a contractor that fits the project you are doing. There are always “specialists” that claim to be the best Kitchen Remodeler or the Bathroom Professional, but talking to contractors gives you much more insight on what their abilities are and projects that they have done in the past.
You’ve started making calls and asking for quotes.
Now that you have called the contractor, did someone answer the phone? If you left a message, did they call you back or did you have to call multiple times? There are many stories that I hear where customers call the contractor numerous times, but never hear back. Others finally get a contractor to take a look at the project, but never receive an estimate for the work. Some people say, “Well, that is just how contractors are.” Not true. Business 101 is important no matter what field you are in. Customer service starts at the first phone call. If you are not taken care of on day one, how do you think the rest of the relationship will go as the project is underway?
It is important to get at least three estimates for the project you are looking to have done.
Although you will hopefully get three different prices, the main reason for getting three estimates is to get to know three different contractors, how they approach customer service and the project at hand. This is also a great time to get ideas for the project where you can implement various ideas into the final project layout. Of course you have your vision of the final product, but professional contractors have seen many variations of remodeling projects, so it is important to keep an open mind.
At this point, you have all of your estimates in hand. I never recommend going with the lowest price solely because it is the lowest. The potential cost involved for fixing what the lowest bidder did will undoubtedly cost you way more in the long run. On the same token, I do not recommend going with the highest price assuming that you will get the best service. I would suggest doing some homework and making sure that the price is realistic. The internet is a great way to check the authenticity of the estimate. There are many blogs where other homeowners share their experiences and costs for the project. Keep in mind, prices change based on geographical location so make sure that you are comparing apples for apples.
The next step is to do a background check on the contractor.
The Better Business Bureau is still a good reference site but another important, and often overlooked, source is the Department of Consumer Protection in your state. This is where you can verify that the contractor is licensed. It is crucial to get a licensed contractor, as this will protect you moving forward should something go wrong during the project.
Now that you have selected your contractor, get a contract!
Everything should be detailed out in the contract. This is your only legal recourse if there is a dispute on what is, or was, being done. For instance, the Department of Consumer Protection will require that you have a contract with a licensed contractor. All contractors pay a yearly fee to the Department of Consumer Protection which has a portion set aside for the general fund which homeowners can recover damages for a project that went bad. Clarity in the contract is very important. Ask for revisions and make sure everything is outlined so there are no questions about what is being done.
Doing your homework and checking references is always the best way to approach a home remodeling project.
Advertisements do not accurately tell you what you need to know about your contractor. Ask for client references, check the internet, check your local BBB and most importantly, check with your state’s Department of Consumer Protection. If there are any negative reports on their record, ask for a copy of the report and you will have more insight into their competency. As with many industries that work with the public, you cannot please everyone 100% of the time, but if there is a theme in the negative report, take that as a warning.
For more information on how to select the right contractor, or for a free consultation, please give Shaw Remodeling a call at 860.434.2004. We would be happy to sit with you and discuss any questions you may have as well as the many options there are available to you.