Owning a home can be a wonderful experience, but sometimes it can be downright stressful. Maintenance and repairs, additions and alterations, and all manner of time-consuming projects can pop up out of nowhere. Intentional or accidental, taking the plunge and making changes to your home tends to be a standard part of home ownership.
Whether you’re going through a major construction project or minor renovations, one of the most important parts of any home improvement is finding a contractor that fits with your needs. A good contractor can be hard to find, but is an invaluable resource when it comes to completing your project on time and within your budget. So the question is, how do you find one?
Scope Out The Job
One of the best things you can do to ensure that you find a competent contractor that is qualified to perform the work you’re requesting is… to know what you’re requesting. Having a clearly laid out scope of work for your project is critical to ensuring that you don’t end up working with a contractor that doesn’t have the technical skill or experience to do a good job.
This can save a lot of frustration, delays, and unnecessary expense on your end, so it’s important to know what you have in mind before you even start looking for someone to do the work.
Seek Out Recommendations
Social media is one of the first places people turn these days for recommendations – and there’s nothing wrong with utilizing community groups and online forums to ask around about any services you might want to hire someone to provide. But whether online recommendations are your first stop or your last, they shouldn’t be the only piece of the puzzle.
Talking to trusted friends and family can be a step up in terms of reliability when it comes to getting reviews and ratings of individuals they’ve worked with in the past. If you want to go even more in depth, sites like Angie’s List offer reviews from past customers of various contractors, and include detailed ratings of their service, quality of work, pricing, and more.
And finally, checking with trade organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and your state licensing commission for home improvement contractors for complaints and violations is a good way to avoid potential issues.
Treat It Like A Job
When most people are looking for work, they expect to have to show up and make their case during a job interview. Hiring a contractor isn’t that different – you’re paying someone to provide a service, and you’re entitled to have them pitch you on why they’re the best fit for the project.
This interview will normally take place in the form of an estimate/walkthrough, when you’ll have a detailed conversation with prospective contractors about your project and expectations. They’ll answer questions, make recommendations, and get back to you with a price – so make sure that you take advantage of the opportunity to ask about anything important to you.
Work Out A Deal
Setting up a plan to complete your project isn’t as simple as cutting a check – after interviewing one contractor, it’s important to repeat the process at least once or twice more, so that you can have a number of bids to compare against each other for the work you’re looking to have done.
It’s also important to have a formal, written agreement or contract for the work you’re requesting. This agreement should include any expectations that you and your contractor might have – from job site maintenance (will they be cleaning up at the end of each day or leaving vehicles overnight) to a payment schedule. Establishing the terms of your contract is critical to ensuring that both you and your contractor know what to expect from start to finish.