There are way too many horror stories of homeowners who began a renovation project, hired home remodeling contractors, and then experienced a downward spiral of escalating costs, massive miscommunication, and shoddy workmanship. Many of those nightmares could have been avoided if only those homeowners did their due diligence before hiring just any home renovation contractor.
Here then are our tips on choosing the right general contractor for your home remodeling project.
Tell Your Network
If you want to find a contractor then, by all means, tell your circle of friends about your search. Ask for referrals. Let word-of-mouth lead you to the right general contractors or the right building company.
Involving your network does two things. The first one is the most obvious: it helps you find contractors that your friends and family have worked with and whose work they recommend.
But secondly, it also cements your commitment to the project. Up until you tell your friends about your plans, you can back out at any moment. After you ask for referrals, it becomes harder to just cancel. For some people, this may be the perfect incentive to finally get that renovation under way.
Look at Credentials
Once you have candidates for the project, it’s important to examine all the necessary credentials they have. States often require contractors to be licensed or bonded.
Find out what the licensing requirements are in your particular area. These licenses can be anything from having a simple registration to completing a more complex qualification process. And make sure their credentials are valid!
Schedule an Interview
Narrow it down to the one candidate you want to talk with, and schedule a meeting.
Something to note: you might have a difficult time scheduling a meeting with some contractors. Don’t immediately take this as a negative point. Remember that the most in-demand contractors are usually the best ones. So keep your mind open until you actually get to speak to them.
Ask Pertinent Questions
When you finally meet, there are some crucial questions you must ask your candidate:
Permits & Paperwork
- What will your business insurance cover? What will my homeowner’s insurance cover?
- What permits will we need?
- What work will be done by your direct employees vs. subcontractors?
- How often will we have face-to-face meetings to discuss the project? How often can we do walk-throughs?
- How open are you to more hands-on decision making from my end? Can I be more/less involved in this process?
- How do you track the daily progress? Is there a way for me to see this progress as well?
- How many home remodeling projects similar to mine have you completed in the past 12 months?
- What kinds of budgets have you dealt with before?
- Can I have a list of references: both former clients and subcontractors you’ve worked with?*
*Note: only ask for references when you feel you’re ready to fully commit to a completed proposal. First off, your contractor will want to protect previous customers from being disturbed by multiple calls. And secondly, it takes a lot of effort to go through past clients and find those who have had similar work done to your project. So don’t ask for references until you’re ready to take on the home remodeling contractor you’ve interviewed.
Do Your Research
Before and after talking with your candidate, there is good, old-fashioned homework. Don’t sign anything until you’ve done the research!
Before the Interview
- Find out how long the candidate has been in business.
- Look at examples of their previous work, especially if they have it on a website or social media.
- Peruse client testimonials on their website or on trusted review sites online.
After the Interview
- Find out if a potential contractor has a history of customer complaints or litigation.
- Check the references they give you — both homeowner clients as well as subcontractors who have worked under your candidate. Find out if the contractor has good business management practices, if payments are given on time, if project timelines are met and budgets are kept.
After going through the above process, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision. You’ll have data on your candidate and past examples of work. And you’ll be better prepared for the next step: drawing up a written contract.